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Hospitality
(Part I)

We looked around the room. Then we did a little mental head scratching. Half the fellowship hall had been cleared. Now to set things up. We’ve all done this before.

“Which end do we tuck in?” someone asks.

“Oh, do we need a chair at each bed?” someone else remembers.

“I’d want my head near the wall . . . so I could see what was going on.”

“Yeah, I’d be thinking of my safety. But of course these guys aren’t worried about safety. . . ” says someone else rather facetiously.

“Of course they are. They are just as human as any of us,” I say. Not judgmentally. Just matter-of-factly.

Then we started moving the cots into place.  It was Room in the Inn preparation. My church was among the early adopters of this program – over 20  years ago – which invites homeless guests to our church two nights a month for six months of the year.

Different groups and individuals in the church take turns hosting our guests by preparing the space, cooking dinner, making breakfast, packing sack lunches, driving the van or staying the night at the church.

It is one of the ways we practice hospitality.

After the cots were in place, and each bed had sheets and pillows and a chair sitting nearby, I began gathering up my things. I stopped to talk with two friends who were planning the next Wednesday night meal: baked potatoes with toppings of all kinds. We like to eat when we get together.

It’s another of the ways we practice hospitality.

Around the church house folks were putting up a new baby bed in the nursery, planning Lenten worship, praying for the needs of the community, thinking about how to carry out the next mission project. They were enjoying each other. Laughing. Talking. Figuring things out.

Yep. Another way we practice hospitality.

I handed out three copies of an article on hospitality to volunteers who will teach our children this month. They will act as hosts for learning and make explicit what we try to practice when we say God has welcomed us and we in turn are to open our places and ourselves to others.

So I decided it was a good time to do a little writing about hospitality myself. And so I will.

You’re invited to keep visiting over the next few posts to see what we find.

As we like to say in the South . . . Ya’ll come back now.


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