The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The strangers among us

What message might God send in these people?

Those who knew my mother still describe her amazing gift of hospitality. Even 16 years after her death, it is wonderful to hear descriptions of a delicious meal, lively conversation, joyful singing, meaningful devotions, heartfelt laughter and a beautifully decorated table.

In the busyness of our lives, my wife Ione and I are often the recipients of the hospitality of others. To be honest, I have learned more about being a guest than a host. My teachers have often been those who live in poverty but have welcomed me with warm, generous and even lavish hospitality.

I will never forget Lucy Clark. My first call was in a public housing community. When Lucy invited me over for lunch to meet her family, I was served before the other members were seated. It was her way of honoring me as her guest and new pastor.

When Ione and I first traveled to Tanzania in 1996, we experienced similar hospitality. In rural villages, often we were welcomed into the pastor's home and served a feast with children, family and congregational leaders looking on. We assumed that one of the family's few chickens had been slaughtered for our meal, and we found it hard to understand the delight of those gathered around us until we realized our hosts felt pure joy in welcoming strangers.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity