Advent devotion: Open-arms hospitality

News | December 19, 2015

Hospitality. When we think of hospitality this season we might think of an invitation to a friend’s home. We arrive to see candles in the window and receive a warm hug at the door. Everything is festive: trees are decorated with sparkly, white lights; a serene Nativity is surrounded by evergreen boughs; wreaths are decorated with plaid bows. We are offered sparkling wine or special eggnog with a bit of spirits, and we delight in the “heavy” hors d’oeuvres that cover the dining room table as we listen to I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. This is hospitality and we enjoy the gala time with friends.

Mathew 25 presents us with another view of hospitality when Jesus talks about faith and service. He says, “Come you who are blessed by my Father…. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me.” This hospitality is evident on Brady Street with our hill-top neighbors at the Madison Marketplace, sponsored by St. Paul.

The second and fourth Tuesdays of each month the scene is open-arms hospitality. Early in the morning St. Paul members unload boxes from the River Bend Foodbank, including canned and baked goods, cereal, frozen food, fresh fruits and vegetables, health care products, and clothing donated by St. Paul members. Later, more folks set up the inviting market with blue-and-white checkered table cloths, grocery carts, and a welcome table to check in the 41 families selected by the staff of Madison School who are in desperate need of this food support.

Then the doors open and the families file in. Warm hospitality is everywhere. A St. Paul member welcomes them by name, and another assists the family around the market. Still another member is rocking a seven-day-old baby so Mom can shop, while another is passing out fruit drinks and granola bars to the hungry kids accompanying mom or dad. Someone else is offering free hair cuts, and another is offering an extra bag of frozen chicken to a family of nine – all while a busy crew is packing up their boxes of food to load into their cars (or drive them home if they have no car!). This is hospitality. As Jesus says, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

As I ponder this holy season, I think of pregnant Mary and anxious Joseph making two difficult journeys – one to Bethlehem and another as refugees to Egypt. Did they receive any hospitality beside the one inn keeper that gave them a stable?! I hope so.

Jeanne Olsen is a retired hospital chaplain and now volunteers at Madison Marketplace, Café on Vine, The Figge and Genesis hospital (with her pet therapy dog Sophie). She and her husband Paul live in Bettendorf.

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



6just as He says also in another passage,



7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight