|"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."|
Read Matthew 10:16-42
"True Christian hospitality requires a giving of ourselves, an opening up of who we are, a willingness to stretch our sometimes-narrow lives to step outside of our comfort zones. If we truly try to follow Jesus, our outlook on the world - especially its strangers, its poor, its homeless, its helpless, its needy, even its enemies - will be forever changed." (Brother David Vryhof, SSJE, in Brother, Give Us A Word.Like all Christian practices, hospitality requires intentionality. In my itinerant ministry as a member of the Bishop's staff I am usually in a different congregation every week. All of them claim to be friendly and welcoming and some of them truly are. Almost all of them are welcoming to me, of course - I come there in "uniform" and with some level of authority. But sometimes my wife along, although we almost always travel separately. Unlike me, she arrives as a stranger - and a "single" one at that.
My observation is that some congregations do make an effort to welcome her and some do not. This is not an indictment of anyone; simply an observation that actions don't always match the desire to be welcoming.
And of course this is when people come into the buildings that we want them to enter! The real question of hospitality is where we are willing to go to meet the stranger - going into prisons, and hospitals, and homeless shelters takes even more work.
But it does keep coming up in Matthew, doesn't it? Maybe it is a word we need to hear.