Editor's note:

One of our favorite Renovaré friends is Trevor Hudson. He is a Methodist minister, teacher, and author from South Africa. Last year, we read through his book Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship with our Renovaré Book Club, and Renovaré Institute students have experienced the joy of his teaching over the years. 

We are excited that he has a new Advent devotional out this year called Pauses for Advent: Words of Wonder. And because we’re enjoying it so much, we thought we’d share today’s entry with you below. Be blessed!

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Pauses for Advent

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. —Romans 15:7

To genuinely welcome people is to invite them into our space, to open our hearts to theirs, and to make them feel that they can be themselves in our presence. What a wonderful gift to offer others!

As our reading reminds us, Jesus offers us the gift of welcome. As the true Messiah, he fulfills the promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Through Jesus, God allows everyone and anyone to be welcomed into God’s family.

Paul encourages us to offer the gospel-gift of welcome to others. Welcoming others can begin with a simple smile or an act of kindness. When someone in need crosses our path, we can be attentive, we can listen, and we can respond out of compassion and love instead of making him or her feel like an interruption or an imposition on our time. This is not easy, especially when the person we seek to welcome is vulnerable, in distress, or desperate for what we may find difficult to give. 

But what does welcome have to do with Advent? Simply put, Jesus—the person we want to welcome into our hearts during this season—often comes to us disguised as a stranger. If this is true, as Jesus himself says it is, then we no longer can define Advent as four calendar weeks that we celebrate once a year. We celebrate Advent every time we welcome someone in Jesus’ name and on his behalf, every time we look beyond ourselves and notice someone in need of love and compassion. Welcoming others involves becoming aware of people outside our families, our circle of friends, and our faith communities. We take a risk by reaching out, introducing ourselves, and taking an interest in their lives. May we remind ourselves today that welcoming the stranger is a gift of genuine Christmas love that we can give every day of the year.

Daily Practice

Today, intentionally seek to be welcoming. Keep your office door open or invite someone you don’t know to lunch. Offer a friendly smile to the cashier at the grocery store or visit neighbors who just moved in next door.

The Renovaré Book Club

You’re invited to a journey through soul-shaping books, like C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and Chris Hall’s Living Wisely with the Church Fathers. Read intentionally with a guided plan. Go deeper with exclusive study guides, essays, and podcasts. Engage meaningfully in online or in-person discussion groups. Running now—June 2018. Join today - or order a gift membership for someone you love!

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Excerpted from Pauses for Advent: Words of Wonder by Trevor Hudson (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2017) pp. 29-30.