Our son has had this blanket and kitty since he was born. The cat does not have a known origin. It may have been accidentally snagged from the children’s ministry at our old church. Whoops. The blanket was a handmade gift from a family friend’s mother. Our son has no memory of her. This thing has been through the ringer. Crocheted by a stranger to him, his blankie provides endless comfort as he tickles the threads between his fingers and toes.
As I think of the solidarity I have experienced in moments of struggle, stress, and debilitating angst, sometimes the greatest source of comfort has come from strangers. While those who know you best and love you most can provide their fair share of empathy, there is nothing like the unexpected display of compassion and love from one who has no agenda, obligation, or real or perceived need for reciprocation. The writer of Hebrews calls this demonstration of hospitality (literally translated: φιλοξενίας or love of strangers/foreigners) entertaining angels...or conversely being entertained by angels (13:2). It is a real and holy thing to participate in and benefit from this strange exchange of hospitality. This Advent, may we be open to being both entertained by and the entertainer of angels. God knows we have more than enough reasons to crave comfort.
Check out the calendar of words for sacred imaging through AdventWord.