Thought for the weekend (February 2024)

When you hear the word “hospitality,” what thoughts and pictures come to mind? One dictionary definition of hospitality is; the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests or strangers. I would like to highlight three words contained in that definition, and they are, “friendly,” “generous” and “strangers.”

I believe in hospitality. I believe in its enormous potential for good and for blessing – both for the giver and the receiver. I believe hospitality is one the most precious and life-transforming gifts within each local community. I have often been the joyful and grateful recipient of kind, thoughtful, and caring hospitality, some of which has been extended to me by very poor people living in struggling but vibrant and supportive communities. Generous hospitality in Havana, Cuba – from the poor and needy community of Luyano immediately comes to mind. They offered me much from their very limited resources.

I believe hospitality to strangers, to newcomers, is especially worthy of note, and so often it goes unnoticed. But the cup of coffee with a chocolate biscuit, the simple warm homely meal lovingly cooked, the bed for the night offered from a heart of compassion is truly significant – certainly in the eyes of God – and never forgotten by those with a genuine need who encounter warm-hearted generosity that expects no rewards or return favours.

Could you offer a simple practical expression of warm hospitality to a neighbour in need, or to a newcomer to your street and community? Could you open-up your home and bring hope, encouragement, and cheer into the life of a fellow traveller? There are two quotes which have challenged me deeply about the need to be hospitable. Here they are;

“True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person”

(Kathleen Norris – American poet and writer)

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

(Hebrews 13 v 2 – The New Testament)

Revd Peter J Clarkson – Minister of Christchurch Abbeydale (LEP) and Lydney, Littledean, and Drybrook United Reformed Churches in the Forest of Dean.