We met our new neighbor recently. That is, if you can categorize shouting across the front yard for a few minutes in freezing cold weather as “meeting” someone. In any other time, I would have found the encounter worthy of good laugh. Somehow every time we tried to give each other our names some noise interrupted us so we couldn’t hear the names clearly. These are quiet days, how frustrating to have cars drive by, planes flying overhead, and doors slamming right when we most needed quiet. We finally got it sorted out, but the whole encounter made me realize how much work it takes to intentionally “show hospitality to strangers.” It also made me realize how much work there will be to do once this pandemic is more controlled. I met my neighbor, but I don’t know her at all. Hospitality is still to come. The pandemic has changed how we live in a lot of ways.  For some, this passage from Hebrews may sound a little risky or at least unrealistic.  Yet hospitality, which includes extending emotional, material, and spiritual care to others that we do not yet know, is a key Christian attribute. Somehow, we need to practice this hospitality to strangers now, and even more when church congregations are able to gather. The ultimate hospitality is to invite someone into the family of Christ. This series of devotions will cover quite a lot of ground. We’ll think about the Biblical understanding and emphasis on hospitality. We’ll look at some information about the demographics of our area and ponder the concerns people in our neighborhoods share. And, we’ll consider what kinds of things cause the people in our area to stay away from church and faith-life. As always, let us begin this journey with a prayer.

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2

Almighty God, we pray for your guidance as we consider how to be hospitable Christians in this pandemic season, as well as in the hoped for post-pandemic season to come. Our desire is to follow your path to holiness, and share that path with whomever is willing to follow. Help us to open our hearts, minds, community, and even our homes so that no one may go without love and care in this world. In Christ, and by his Spirit we pray – Amen.