hospitality in Jacksonville presbyterian churchChristian author Henri Nouwen, once told about a time when he was going to a monastery for a retreat. The monks at that monastery observed vows of silence and the retreat was to be meditative and prayerful. Nouwen was delayed and had to arrive late on a rainy night well after bedtime. One of the brothers met him at the door and greeted him warmly, taking his wet coat, and bringing him to the kitchen for a cup of tea.

They talked late into the night, and Nouwen began to relax and feel ready for the retreat. However, it dawned on him that this monk was supposed to observe silence, and he asked him, “Why are you willing to sit and talk with me?” The monk replied, “Of all the duties of the Christian faith and the rules of my order, none is higher than hospitality.”

Did you know that in its original form, “hospitality” combines two separate words, one meaning friend and the other meaning stranger. So from very early on, hospitality has carried with it the idea of making friends out of strangers.

I wonder how that would look for you and me.

Some people I know show hospitality to folks in need in their communities by volunteering in food pantries or homeless shelters. Others make a point to bring a cup of cold water to maintenance or lawn care workers. A smile or a kind word can go a long way when we are served in a store or restaurant. The challenge is to remember that of all the duties of the Christian faith, hospitality is near the top!

Let us pray: We thank you O God, for people who have shown hospitality to us – even when we were strangers to them. Give us eyes to see your image in each and every person we meet, and grant us the grace to welcome them as you would welcome them, and as you have welcomed us. Amen.

Photoghraphy by Anglo-Indian Heritage-Centre