Stewardship Spotlight: Welcoming our Christmas Guests

Throughout Advent, we ready the way for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to spend quiet time with the Lord – even 10 minutes set aside each day to listen, and to create the quiet space where God will whisper to us.’

Our spiritual preparation is first. And sometimes our secular preparation occupies far more than 10 minutes each day, especially as December days hasten towards Christmas.

Can we combine the spiritual and secular? Preparing spiritually by how we welcome our guests – to our own home and to our Saint Helen home.

When you host family or friends at your home, you attend to their needs. You may move your car out of your driveway so that they can park closer to your front steps. You greet them and make them comfortable. You encourage your children to make space for them on the couch. You show that they are welcome by offering them something to eat, perhaps a nourishing meal, a special drink, or a sweet treat. You listen to them, share common stories about family or friends, laugh together – perhaps you even sing a Christmas carol. If they have travelled a distance, or the weather has turned, you might even invite them to stay the night.

You want them to feel as welcome and comfortable as possible – you want them to visit again! When you are the guest, you hope that your host reciprocates and treats you in the same warm and welcoming way.
Our hearts and spirit are lifted when we know someone is happy to see us!

So too with Christmas Mass. How will we welcome our guests to our Saint Helen home?

When we host our fellow parishioners, family members or new guests at our Christmas Masses, we can encourage a welcoming spirit for everyone by planning how we help everyone feel welcome.
We can plan to arrive early for Mass, parking at a more distant spot to allow space for the elderly or families with babies or small children to be closer to the front doors. (For those who can arrive 10 extra minutes early, please use that time to park next door at Lamberts Mill Academy and walk together as a family to Church, as people always did just a generation ago.)

Greet our hospitality ministers who are volunteering to make others feel welcome at Mass. Reach out to someone new, or someone who is attending Mass alone, as you enter the church – remembering the refrain, “All are Welcome Here.” Sit near the altar, closely together in your pew to allow other families to join you. Perhaps offer your seat for someone less able to walk or stand, or for a parent with a baby or young child. Sing together – pray together – be joyful together. A child is born to us!

Can we make all feel welcome – despite our tendency to perhaps be upset that Mass is more crowded with new people at Christmas? How happy we would be to welcome a guest to our home whom we haven’t seen in a long time! We would greet them with great enthusiasm and excitement. And we would encourage and hope that they come back – again and often.

We all long for a place to belong – a place where we can be accepted and welcomed. Let’s make Saint Helen a “belonging place” for others. As Scripture says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Msgr. Tom

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