“The gift of an open door this Christmas is a gift of giving… giving of yourself, your time, your home, your family, your hospitality, but most of all the giving of gift of love as we become open doors of love to pass right through.”Mark Wanders………..
Christmas. The most wonderful time of year. The time we remember the coming of our Saviour to this broken world as an insignificant baby.
Not counting equality with God, he emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Jesus did all this, humbling himself, becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross. For us.
To live the life we couldn’t live, and to die the death we deserved, breaking the bonds of death and rising again, we, by His obedience, sacrifice and resurrection, receive forgiveness and eternal life in him.
Christmas is that wonderful.
What about inviting others into the story? You and me, living as those included in the family of God by grace, can invite others through an open door.
Why not give the Gift of your open front door this Christmas, opening the door of your home and inviting people in? To share the warmth of your home and a meal of celebration and talk about the place we can have in the story of the good news of Christmas. Everyone likes to hear good news. And everyone likes to hear they can belong and be included.
I recognize that many of us open our homes to family and friends. But what about this Christmas opening your home to your neighbour, or people you don’t know that well, or even strangers you meet along the way?
Here’s one idea how that could look. Feel free to customize it and share ideas.
The Neighbourhood Potluck
We host a neighbourhood Christmas potluck dinner and send out an open invite for all our neighbours right around the middle of November. This gives people a chance to respond and put it in their calendars as we set a date in the first half of December. It is a ‘neighbourhood invite’ in that we decide on a specific area in proximity to our home. It’s a potluck because it is great fun to experience many different dishes from everyone. And it is an ‘open invite’ in that if anyone knows of another person they want to bring along, they too are welcome.
We pray and ask God to so direct the evening that those whom he would have come through our open door would be those he would have hear the real message of Christmas.
Here’s a rough outline of the evening.
The invites are clear on place, date and time and that it is a neighbourhood Christmas potluck. We put a time on it from 6 PM to 10 PM so that people know when to show up but that they also know that the celebrations don’t go all night. People are welcome to stay after 10, but it puts people at ease if they want to leave as well.
We usually serve some drinks and appetizers while people are rolling in for the first hour. We have background music playing and all our kids help out with the welcoming, sorting of coats and food dishes, and serving people as they show up and get settled. People always love meeting our kids.
Around 7 PM the main course items get sorted to be put out on display for consumption. When things are ready, I get everyone’s attention and officially welcome and thank everyone for coming and ask to say grace before the meal.
Then everyone is invited to eat, and it really becomes a delightful time of fellowship and getting to know one another or reconnecting as we share life stories. Part of the fun is when you get up to eat, you may lose your spot to someone wanting to talk with people where you were sitting. Food is often the subject of this part of the evening, as to who made what and how good things taste. Enjoying food together, (and even the stories of making it) is such a beautiful way to shed the worries of life and bridge gaps in relationships.
After the main course, and multiple reminders from around the room to save room for dessert, (primarily from those who yet want to share their culinary work), when we are all calling to mind if there were ever a time we ate so much, I announce to everyone that we’ll go around the room and share Christmas memories based on ‘What does Christmas mean to you?’ No one is forced; it’s voluntary.
Everyone gets opportunity to share, with the rest of us listening. Joys and sorrows, cries and laughter are all shared. One couple last year who were second in line as I went around the room said they had no stories to share – which was no problem, we just kept going – when this couple kept hearing other stories shared, their emotions were moved and ideas came and they shared a wonderful story of growing up in Poland and how things used to be so simple. So good to hear everyone! I thank them all for sharing…. and I share last… sharing also a short passage from Scripture and a BRIEF few words about the gospel. When we are invited to share, we become open to receive others sharing.
We wrap up (no pun intended) this sharing time with a celebratory walk to the dessert table. We usually don’t even notice the main course cleanup and dessert layout because we are so engaged with the stories!
Enjoying the Moment
With dessert and coffee out, we linger and just enjoy the moment… this special time of fellowship. Sharing stories has pealed back a layer of unfamiliarity and allows for us to know each just a little better.
Sometimes the reality of the late hour presses a first person to stand up and inform us they will be leaving. Other times, we’ll make note of the time (if nearing 10 o’clock) and announce if anyone wants to go, no problem, but to feel free to stay if they wish. Upon leaving, we give everyone a Christmas card and small gift with a brief message of Christmas included & sometimes a Pocket Bible. From start to finish, as a gracious host, be sure your guests feel welcome, loved, included, special and encouraged.
You can also include options of giving invites to an evening at the church (like Rehoboth Reception in our local church), or to a church service & luncheon, a small Life Group, or to a monthly prayer meeting or Bible study in your home…something that shows you are available and allows for continued contact moving forward.
Bless them as they leave and wish them a blessed and merry Christmas.
The gift of an open front door this Christmas is a gift of giving… giving of yourself, your time, your home, your family, your hospitality, but most of all the giving of gift of love as we become open doors of love to pass right through flowing from the overflowing fountain of love we experience in Jesus Christ.
Give this simple and yet profound gift this Christmas.