The Christmas season can be a beautiful time of love, light, hope, and joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the holidays can also be a difficult season for many.
For some of our students, they may not be returning home for the holidays for many reasons. Maybe they’re a cross-country or international student and home is far away, too far away to afford the travel costs. Maybe home isn’t a safe place to be or family is difficult. Maybe they don’t have a home to return to.
Whatever our students’ situations, we as ministry leaders, community members, and ministry supporters have a unique opportunity to provide a safe place for students to experience the love and beauty of Christmas. We can do this through hospitality in three forms: hospitality of home, hospitality of time, and hospitality of heart.
1. Hospitality of Home
This one is straightforward: open your home to students! There are fewer things lonelier than spending Christmas day completely alone in your dorm room or empty apartment. Why not invite a student who needs a place to call home for a day into your family and space? This can be as inclusive as the whole day or as simple as inviting a student for Christmas dinner.
There is something special about being invited into someone’s home. By inviting people into our homes, the heart of lives, we open up our lives and love as well. Students who have nowhere to go at Christmas would be blessed by this love and sharing.
Additionally, if you are connected with any students who are curious about the meaning of Christmas, inviting them into your home is a wonderful opportunity for them to experience the hope of Christ.
2. Hospitality of Time
Time is one of our most precious commodities during Christmas. We bustle around buying gifts, preparing for family visits, and potentially baking too many Christmas treats. It’s a very busy time. But what if instead of feeding into the busyness, we offered our time to someone else instead?
Every fall semester, a local church we are partnered with offers our students a free meal. Students sign up and are paired with a family from the church who is willing to cook a meal. We’ve seen whole households of students sign up and families respond with generosity of spirit and time as they cook up wonderful dinners and desserts that fuel the students for their final exams before Christmas.
By offering to cook a meal, deliver Christmas cookies, or invite a student you know to a Christmas event, you are being hospitable with your time. Slow down, take a look around, and see who needs welcoming in during the holidays. Offer your time as a gift of hospitality.
3. Hospitality of Heart
Hospitality of heart is certainly at the root of being hospitable with your home and time. But intentional hospitality of the heart goes deeper. By hospitality of heart we mean offering someone friendship, grace, and prayer.
During the holiday season this looks like reaching out to our students with open arms. Making room in our hearts for others is the heart of hospitality. The same thing happened at Jesus’ birth: the shepherds were welcomed into the moment of glory, the moment of hope incarnate.
When we invite students into our lives through a kind open conversation, an invitation to try the latest holiday themed drink at our favourite coffee shop, or offer to pray for whatever is going on for them in this season, we demonstrate the love of Christ. Hospitality of heart is reflecting the moment of hope we find at the manger. And a beautiful thing happens when we love our students; an outpouring of that warmth flows out of their lives to others.