As we begin a new year, we can hope for better times. We can hope that soon we can gather again… with our church family, with our physical families, with our neighbors and co-workers. We can hope that soon we will be free to be human again… to see faces, to smile at people, to be able to hug and console, to encourage. We don’t know when that can happen, but I’d like for us to begin thinking together about hospitality and all it can and should be. I’d like for us to continue to develop a worldview and mindset that embraces all that we, as men and women, boys and girls, those being re-created into the image of the most hospitable One, Jesus Christ, desire to become. I’d like for us also to creatively continue to think about how we can practice hospitality under the current circumstances.
Several aspects of our new humanity were important to Jesus as He ended His time here on earth. First, our love and unity with one another were so important to Him that He made that marker the test by which the world would judge whether Jesus really was God’s Son and whether we really are God’s people. Second, it was important for us to know that as Jesus left this earth, He would send His Holy Spirit to live in us, to convict us about sin, about righteousness, and about judgement. The Holy Spirit came to transform us into the image of Jesus. What was Jesus like? Jesus cared about people. He cared about the woman at the well, Mary and Martha and Lazarus, the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, about his disciples, about the hunger of the people who spent all day following Him and to listen to Him.
So, too, should we care about people. We are to love God, and we are to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? The person who lives next door, but also our neighbor is our family members, the people we work with, the people we meet at the grocery store, on the street, at the park. Most especially our neighbor is our Christian brother and sister in Jesus. We are to receive and welcome our family in Christ more than any other. That is an important part of our witness to Who God is.
As we prepare to launch back out into the world freely again, and hopefully soon, here are some questions that we might be reflecting upon, taken from Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:
- When have you been so deeply received that the welcome touched your soul?
- When have you been wounded because you were not welcomed and received? How has the welcome of Jesus touch your life and your wounds?
- How comfortable are you with being the host or hostess?
- Who models hospitality and welcome for You?
- How do you feel about having guests come to visit?
- Where do you struggle with doing everything perfectly?
- How might Jesus want to use your heart and home as a shelter for others?
As we wait, we’re not off the hook! How can we practice hospitality during a pandemic when we are isolated from one another? Obviously, we can take special care to consider the needs of our spouse, our siblings, our parents, our children. Beyond that, your phone, your email, your Zoom account can connect you with those you know and love but cannot physically be with them. Notes are great! Even greeting someone when they enter a Zoom screen for a call can be an act of hospitality. After all, hospitality is only about making someone feel that they are loved and cared for.
May Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, train us to see, to care for, to love, to show respect for the other. Not to think about ourselves, but to learn to receive all human beings because, they too, were created in the image, and Jesus desires that they would be re-created in Him as well.