Here is my article published in the August 31, 2017 Camrose Canadian Clergy Comment column.
In both Testaments of the Bible, hospitality is viewed as an important practice among people of faith.
For example, in Genesis chapter eighteen God appears to Abraham and Sarah in human form, along with two other strangers. The elderly couple offers hospitality to the LORD and his two companions by giving them a resting place, as well as food and drink. The LORD then promises Abraham and Sarah that they shall have a son.
In Matthew chapter ten, Jesus teaches that whenever hospitality is offered to strangers, as well as to Jesus’ followers, prophets, and righteous persons—it is the same thing as offering hospitality to Jesus himself.
Hospitality, especially to strangers, is highly valued among both Jews and Christians. In Hebrews chapter thirteen, the writer exhorts the faithful with these words: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
The majority of Canadians either have family members who were at one time immigrants, or who themselves are immigrants. In the past, these immigrants relied on the hospitality of others to help them feel at home in their new land. The same is true for immigrants today.
Earlier this year, my wife and I travelled to Norway. We were both impressed by the hospitality of Norwegians whom we met. In one case, we were in a conversation with a store clerk. We told him that we were renting a car and making a day trip to where my grandfather was raised. He was most helpful, he found Google maps and instructions and printed them off for us free of charge, and wished us well. In another case, we were visiting a museum, and a staff person told us that our tickets gave us access to all of the museums in the city. We had a great day exploring the other museums.
As a chaplain with the Bethany Group, offering hospitality to new residents is of vital importance in contributing to their well-being and enhancing their ability to settle into their new environment.
Rather than viewing strangers among us with suspicion or as a threat, may we come to see them as fellow human beings who, like us, are created in the image of God, and therefore respond by offering them hospitality. They, like us, have the same needs. In offering them hospitality, we may very well be surprised at the blessings we receive, like Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors of faith.