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At Christmas God shows a fractured world what it takes to be a generous host and a gracious guest.

The recent Australia Talks survey found that almost half of Australians experience loneliness at some time. Contrary to popular expectation, some of the loneliest Australians are not older people living in remote locations but younger people living in inner city suburbs.

Generous hosts and gracious guests have the potential to transform this situation. Generous hosts create comfortable space for people to connect. They take the initiative in welcoming newcomers into neighbourhoods, workplaces and community groups. They help people feel at home and look for ways for them to celebrate together.

Gracious guests enter unfamiliar space for the sake of connecting with others. They love saying ‘yes’ to an invitation, and help neighbours and colleagues feel that their hospitality is noticed and valued.

The amazing news of Christmas is this: God becomes our gracious guest for a time so that He might be our generous host for eternity.

Think of the first Christmas. Here is Jesus, God the Son, becoming a guest in our world. First in His mother’s womb, then in a feeding trough He moves into our neighbourhood. God becomes one of us, receiving food and drink and companionship from His creation.

That is not the end of the story. Jesus also comes into our world so that He might be our host. Entering into a creation gone astray from its maker, He offers hospitality and table fellowship to all as a sign of God’s coming Kingdom. In His life, death and rising again He does all that is needed to welcome us home for eternity, if we say ‘yes’ to His invitation.

On behalf of the ministries and agencies of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn I wish you and your loved ones a safe and joyful Christmas season. You are very welcome to join us at church so that together we might make space to connect with God.