Friday, June 27, 2008

Radical Hospitality

We were tired after a whole day of conferencing. It was already late at night and we were so exhausted; we feel so weak, our stomach cries out for food and our throats are thirsting for water. So, we decided to drop by at an omelet and coffee shop before heading to our hotel. As we entered the restaurant, the server warmly greeted us with her vibrant smile. Her name is Betty and she made us feel like we are very much welcome in that place. Her energetic smile was full of life it was contagious. I could not help but smile back at her. She immediately offered us water and politely asked if we needed anything else. I thought she was sincerely doing her job. More than that, I could sense her honest hospitality. She even went out of her way to prepare us some ice-cold drinks even if it was not in the menu. She knew we were strangers in the area and she wanted to show the best hospitality she could offer to all the newcomers around. We told her that we were United Methodists having conference at the area. With the snack we ate and with Betty’s hospitality I felt like I was being recharged and my weary body was regaining new energy. Her hospitality was something that reminded me of the hospitality Abraham showed to the three strangers who were walking in the middle of the day. Abraham knew that they were tired, hungry and thirty. He showed unconditional hospitality when he offered them the fattest calf, the finest bread and the best service. They were strangers to him but he treated them like they were his brothers and sisters. This is similar to what Jesus taught about welcoming a stranger. Jesus said in Matthew 10, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me… and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Jesus was teaching radical hospitality, the kind of hospitality that Betty showed to strangers like us. She was doing exactly what Jesus Christ was teaching his followers. I could only hope every Christian would show the same kind of hospitality. She did not only welcomed us that night but also invited us to come back. The next night, after another long day of conferencing, when our body was tired and we were all hungry, we knew where to go. When we were approaching the restaurant, outside was a big sign that reads “WELCOME United Methodist.”