Nenagh rector’s Christmas message to invite a stranger into the house

The knitted crib in St Mary of the Rosary, Nenagh

The knitted crib in St Mary of the Rosary, Nenagh

There’s a line in a lovely Advent Carol which goes: “Make your house fair as you are able; trim the hearth and set the table, Christ the Lord is on the way.”

For those who are preparing this Christmas to welcome home loved ones from overseas, such an instruction is just so easy - of course we will ‘trim the hearth and set the table’ - in spades! The hospitality we’ll offer will be the very best we can afford, and done with great love and rejoicing.

But how about our hospitality to the stranger this Christmas? One of the drum beats that unceasingly resounds through our Scriptures is of the importance of hospitality to the stranger - “the alien” as it is so often translated.

Our knitted Nativity set in St Mary’s continues to grow. This year the Innkeeper and his wife were created, and as we regard them we remember the hospitality, albeit rough and ready, that was offered to a weary strange couple on that first Christmas Eve in Bethlehem so long ago.

It’s easy to open our doors to “our own”, our relatives, people from “our tribe”, “our nationality”. It’s harder to throw open the doors to the stranger, the alien, who might disrupt all our careful preparations and upset all our routine ways. So we remember and give thanks for the hospitality of Joseph who welcomed this little stranger and gave him his name and his protection.

We welcome and give thanks for the hospitality of Mary who gave her body and womb to grow this little stranger, and especially at this Christmas-tide let’s remember and give thanks for all those adoptive parents - single, married, gay, whatever their condition in life - who open the doors of their generous hearts to welcome a child into their homes and thereby enable that child to grow into the fullness of life for which God created her/him.

“Forget not to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2)

I pray that you may all enjoy a holy, blessed and peaceful Christmas.

- Rev Marie Rowley-Brroke,

St Mary of the Rosary, Nenagh


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