Christmas Advent Day 12: Preparing to Welcome
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:9-14, ESV)
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7, ESV)
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7, ESV)
For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11, ESV)
On December 22, 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant welcomed King David Kalākaua of the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawaii) to the White House for the first state dinner in history for a foreign head of state. Kalākaua was known as the Merrie Monarch because of his love of food and drink. President Grant and his wife, Julia, decorated the White House unlike anything ever seen before. There were flowers, crystal decanters, $3,000 worth of fine, imported China, and many other accoutrements adorning the White House dining room.
The Washington Evening Star wrote that the dinner was “brilliant beyond all precedent” as the President of the United States rolled out the red carpet for King David Kalākaua. The dinner included fine French wines, along with a more-than-20-course dinner of the finest food available. This was not a ceremony for a French, Russian, or even British diplomat, but for the last king of Hawaii. It was quite the welcome for Kalākaua, and it set the precedent for state dinners.
Almost 2,000 years before President Grant welcomed King Kalākaua to the White House, the Son of God was brought into this world in humility. There was no grand entrance or 20-course meal awaiting the Savior of the world. Instead, when the Lord Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger “because there was no place for them in the inn.” The Creator of the world was laid in an animal feeding trough! The deserved welcome never came for the Lord Jesus. He would ultimately be rejected by His own nation and sentenced to death on a cross (Matthew 27:2).
Even though the world did not welcome the Lord Jesus, His death on the cross enables us to be accepted with open arms into the family of God (1 Peter 3:18). This is such an undeserved welcome, and yet it has been made available to all at no cost to us. As we prepare our hearts this Christmas season, and as we welcome family and friends into our homes, let us remember that this holiday is a celebration of the birth of the Son of God, and it is through Him and His work at Calvary that we can be welcomed into the family of God.