by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
-1 John 4:7
I’ve been thinking a lot about hospitality this last week.
The kind of hospitality that directly points to the love of God.
The kind of hospitality that embodies selfless giving.
The kind of hospitality that is always thinking of the neighbor.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hospitality.
Hospitality that looks like a home-cooked meal upon your arrival at a friend’s home.
Hospitality that looks like a welcome mat and warm chocolate chip cookies at the door.
Hospitality that looks like the door held wide open for you and an extra set of hands to carry your bags.
Hospitality that looks like friends coming over to care for your children.
Hospitality that looks like a shoulder to cry on and a set of listening ears.
Hospitality that says you are welcome here no matter what.
I’ve been doing some traveling with my family and have more to come on the horizon. And with each travel adventure I find myself in awe of the hospitality of strangers and friends. I find myself giving thanks for the presence of Christ in my neighbors and friends, and their willingness to see that same presence in me.
St. Benedict wrote: “All who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say, ‘I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.’”
In being on the receiving end of hospitality I can’t help but feel compelled to share that same hospitality with others. I want to see Christ not only in my friends but in the strangers I meet throughout the day. I want to offer my heart and my food and my time to others. Yet some days it’s enough to just keep up with my own stuff and to-do lists. Some days I’m tired. Or mad. Or busy chasing a toddler around the house.
And that’s when I need the reminder the most – to see Christ in each person I encounter. To offer hospitality to myself and to those I meet. For there’s never a shortage of people who could use a smile or a kind note. There’s never a shortage of people in need of a home-cooked meal.
Hospitality starts small. One kind act or word at a time. One more book to be read with my daughter. One extra dozen cookies to give to a neighbor. One more greeting of the new family at church. One more door held open. One more visit to the nursing home. One more smile.
There’s never a shortage of love to go around.
Christ is in our midst.
The world is waiting to know that love through us.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com