Great hospitality can come from the most surprising of places. It is like when you get a better meal at a hole-in the-wall café than you can at the fanciest of restaurants. You would think the opposite is true, that the fancier restaurant would have the better food. But quite often what is lacking in outward appearances is made up in the love and care in the welcome that you receive. You aren’t going to always belief it when someone else tells you that the food is great, you need to experience that welcome for yourself to change your mind.
By PASTOR MARY WIGGINS
Hospitality has always had a central place in the history of Christianity. Jesus himself traveled from place to place and was supported by many in his ministry. Early Christians, who didn’t worship in churches like we know today, worshiped in homes. And the church itself has depended on the hospitality of those who have received the apostles and evangelists. They had to be welcomed in. And as result of those welcomes, relationships were built and the church flourish to be the church that we know today.
In my vocation as a minister have been blessed by the opportunity to experience hospitality from many people. In my various travels in seminary, I was blessed by the opportunity to be received by people who were very different from myself. In Mexico, I experienced the radical welcome by people who hardly had anything. In Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere we were well fed and had sugar cane cut down in the field next to us, just so we could experience something new. In South Dakota and Texas, I met with refugees and immigrants who welcomed us to their tables to share food and coffee along with the sacred stories of their experience. And now, in Bowman County, I have the welcome of a rural community.
Experiences of hospitality and welcome are transformational. Because it’s about more than the experiences, it’s the feeling of belonging and the connection made to others. And those connections changed the way that I see the world. My time in other countries changes the way I view things. My life in a rural community shapes how I see things. For when I hear of disasters and different political policies, I just don’t think of the countless people who may be affected. I think of those who opened their homes to us, and the people whose stories I got to hear. I think of strangers who have become friends. I think of people who I can name and I think of Christ, whose grace I saw in them. And through the gift of those connections I can do things on behalf of my fellow humanity.
Mary Wiggins serves as pastor of Scranton Lutheran Parish