Is your home like a nest, where whoever drops in is assured of a welcome, safety, a place to be themselves and also a place where he or she is encouraged to grow?
Or is your home more like a gated community, with a guard outside the premises, making sure only the "right people" are allowed to enter?
Our homes and our families are invited to be "domestic churches," places where God is not only present, but places where God is allowed to choose the "guest list." When you ask God to inspire your family members to invite the people He wants to enter into the safe nest of your home, life can become very interesting. Because God wants to make our homes hideaways for an infinite variety of people.
Jesus said he came to be physician for the sick, didn't he? And isn't He the shepherd who goes after the Lost Sheep? The home of a truly holy family is as much a hospital as a cathedral, as much a place to comfort the sorrowful as a Party City for the happy and strong.
Our own home over the years has welcomed a variety of people at different times. Sometimes we were uncertain about whether we should invite them in or not. Sometimes we took risks. But God has been at work in every situation.
And so we have welcomed ex-prisoners, teens escaping violent home environments, people with a variety of disabilities, women who mourned being sexually molested in their youth, people trying to kick a drug habit, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, black and white, rich and poor. God is everywhere and interested in everyone, and wants us to be, too.
I'm sure He has still more interesting and challenging and lovable people on His prospective guest list for our house. I hope and pray we'll be open and ready.
As we approach the New Year, think about the people who have entered your home this past year and become, if only for an evening, part of your holy family. How have they enriched your family's life? How have you enriched theirs? How have they deepened your understanding of the infinite variety of God's people?
You may also ask yourself - have your guests all been the same color or come from the same social or economic class? Have they all been "saints"? People who stick to a certain moral code? Or were there some "sinners" in the bunch, people who some would ostracize? Did they all have the same sexual orientation or political beliefs?
During Advent, our church members sang the same song each week, a song to welcome new members. We sang "All are welcome in this place." Can we say that we have the same attitude about who is welcome in our homes, our nests, our domestic churches?
In this coming year, if we would all ask God to inspire our guest lists, if we would listen more closely to God's summons, grow more brave, perhaps we will invite a new guest to enter our door, someone we may never have been open to inviting into our lives before. And we will see a new and wondrous Face of God.
Mary C. Weisenburger