July 24, 2020
“Continue to love one another. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:1-2
My mother, Donna, lived this Bible verse to its fullest. Throughout my childhood, it seemed that at least twice a week our doorbell would ring right at dinner time. No one had been invited over; that did not phase Mom. With joy in her voice, she answered the door and most often I heard her say: “Come on in. We are just sitting down to dinner and there is plenty.” “No” was not an acceptable answer. And so, it did not matter the number of people who arrived; there was always room and there was always enough.
At times the knock came from complete strangers, other times neighbors, church folk or family. Mom greeted them all the same. Some might call her foolish, but she was the wisest woman I have known and so filled with love for everyone. There were times my family struggled to pay all the bills, yet, there was always a welcome if you knocked on our door.
As a teenager, to my chagrin, Mom also lived this out wherever we were – the store, a movie theater, walking down the street, on vacation. As a 14-year-old, I would be totally embarrassed that once again, Mom was talking to a stranger!
The truth was we met fascinating individuals and families through Mom’s heart for hospitality. Professors, scientists, painters, singers, actors, students, someone needing help were all greeted equally by Mom. And she could get anyone to talk. Most often they ended up at our home or our hotel for a meal and more conversation.
Mom’s actions would seem strange to many these days. More often than not, I see people wary or fearful of anyone who has a different idea, theology, economic status, culture, physical ability, sexual orientation or … . We have become an “us and them” world. Divisions abound. But do they have to? My heart says, No. We have a God, calling us to invite everyone to the banquet, to see each other as our spiritual sisters and brothers.
I believe that the unrest in our country mirrors the unrest in our soul as a nation. Perhaps, a way to move forward is by embracing the spiritual concept of hospitality. It seems that this simple, yet profound, shift of focus could help us see each other as God sees each of us. Together we can shine a light of love so bright that others are drawn to it. Together we can echo my mom’s words, “Come on in, there is plenty of room.” Together with God, we can build God’s kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This Sunday in worship we will have the third in the series, “Called to Serve” as part of our year-long theme of “Words for Life.” “Neighbor” will be our focus. How are we called to be a neighbor in today’s world? Join me for worship at 9:45 a.m. at umcstmarks.org/live-worship, St. Mark’s Facebook, or on YouTube at UMC St Mark’s Oro Valley.
Thank you for welcoming this stranger into the St. Mark’s family more than eight years ago. I am so grateful for our journey together. May you feel the power and presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit as you go through these unusual and uncertain times.