I have been thinking a lot about hospitality lately. It is not something I am gifted in, but I try to make people feel welcome in our home, or at a meeting (even if I am not leading it), at house church, or in worship gatherings. Some people are very gifted at hospitality and I am always amazed by their warmth and service and ability to make anyone comfortable.
While we all think of hospitality as that trait that welcomes others into “our” environment, I would take it deeper than that. I would say it is that trait where people (and especially new people) are invited, not indicted; where they are respected, not rejected.
Hospitality, invitation, and respect work together to form an environment of welcome. There is no room in hospitality for judgment, rejection and exclusion. There is no room for bias, discrimination, and segregation. The apostle Paul said to the diverse church in Rome: “be hospitable to one another.” Jesus said about some of the least in his culture: “whoever welcomes one of these little children, welcomes me.”
In these United States we live in an antagonistic culture. Politicians and organizations that would have their candidate elected stop at nothing to attack their opponent. This nation that is built on immigration would halt others from coming and being productive citizens. This nation that is built on so many personal freedoms for which we are grateful, would actually limit those freedoms because of a group’s differences from the “norm”. We are concerned about bullying in our schools, yet, isn’t that what we see on a national scale in so many ways?
In our own neighborhoods, and workplaces and homes we have built barriers and quickly judge, reject and exclude rather than welcome, respect and invite others to become part of our lives.
It is time for this to change. And it will happen one person at time, one family at a time, one congregation at a time. It starts with me. And you.
I want to encourage you today to see the value and worth in every person you meet. I want to encourage you today to truly listen to those different from you. I want to encourage you today to “take a brick out of the wall” that you have built around yourself and open up to the possibility that you could truly welcome those different from you into your environment and actually make it better.
I pray God would bless you in your efforts. And that even today our world would be a better place to live.