Hospitality - Monday Musing, June 14, 2021
Hospitality. The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers is said to show hospitality. In scripture, hospitality is a sacred duty. In his letter to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul writes: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb 13:2)
There are occasions when we have all been the giver, as well as the receiver, of hospitality. In the past year, our hospitality efforts have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, both in church as well as our homes. There is no greater example of generous hospitality than what the residents of Gander, Canada showed on 9/11/2001. The four coordinated hijackings of airplanes to be used as a terrorist weapon against the United States affected worldwide travel. In the immediate aftermath of the terrorists’ attack, the entire airspaces of the US and Canada were closed. Domestic planes were diverted to the nearest available airport; international flights were diverted to Atlantic Canada.
Gander is located in the northeastern part of the island of Newfoundland, where an international airport serves as an important refueling stop for transatlantic aircrafts. The town has earned the name “Crossroads of the world.” In 2001, Gander International Airport played an integral role in world aviation when 38 civilian and 4 military flights bound for the US were ordered to land at the airport. 7000 people landed in Gander in a short period of time, nearly doubling the size of the town’s population.
When it became clear that the unexpected guests were going to be stranded for a few days, the community stepped up to the plate and extended generous hospitality. For six days, the residents of Gander, without hesitation, housed people in their own homes, cooked every meal, and entertained their foreign angels from the sky.
Jesus lived and breathed gracious hospitality, embracing those who were often shunned. He declared there is room for all – children (Luke 18:15-17), and those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, ill, poor, grieving, persecuted, and in prison (Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 6:20-26). Jesus put faith and hospitality together: “Whoever receives one whom I send receives me” and those who received Jesus, embraced God (John 13:20).
The people of Gander showed extravagant hospitality to strangers. We may never have the same opportunity to extend such welcome, but the gift Gander offers is that of inspiration to such a level of generosity. As we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions, may we return to our pre-pandemic combination of faith and hospitality that has been the core of our community of faith. See you in church!