Welcoming the Stranger

I was reminded, recently, about a value vital to the mission of God: hospitality. What does hospitality mean to you? I think for many of us, when we consider hospitality we think about opening our homes, and it is true that sometimes we obsess over “will every thing be perfect,” or “is my house presentable” or “am I a good enough cook.” And so we are gently reminded that the point of hospitality is not a perfect house or a perfect meal. All good. All true. And so maybe we open our doors and invite friends over to share a meal, or to play or hang out with our kids, but I wonder if somewhere in the midst of it all, we have forgotten the purpose of hospitality.

Hospitality, the way Jesus talks about it, has a lot more to do with the who than the what. When Jesus talks about hospitality, he talks about Jews welcoming Samaritans, about Pharisees welcoming un-religious, rough around the edges kinds of people, about all of us welcoming children – the most vulnerable among us. Hospitality is welcoming the stranger.
Maybe this way of embodying hospitality begins right here among our own church family. I wonder, as many of us sit comfortably with our friend circles, who among us right here feels like a stranger? Who among us is lonely or left out? Who doesn’t have a group of friends? How can we begin to embody a posture that communicates that love and friendship don’t operate from a position of scarcity? There is enough for everyone.

May we have the courage to open our circles wider. May we be convicted that our tables need to be longer with more seats. May we know that to welcome the stranger is to welcome God.


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