Written by Tera Michelson
As a church family, it is difficult to discern what is hospitable behavior versus what is safe behavior. As we go through life following Jesus, we reach out to shake the hands of sinners just as often as we shake the hands of saints. They are the same hands, attached to the same people, just at different moments.
“Stranger danger” is a laughable concept for a church kid. Jesus leads us to welcome the stranger. We offer him food, give her fuel for her car and open the door and our arms in welcome. We would never turn away the stranger, nor run from or even fear them, because we know what it is to be the outcast, reject and underdog. In many places around the world, and often in our own streets, hallways and meetings, those are just other names for disciple.
We host a lot of visitors. Our children have been playing musical rooms with our house guests ever since they can remember. In their version of rolling out the red carpet, they dust and polish and set out favorite books and toys in preparation. They hang personalized welcome signs on their bulletin boards and turn on a night light in the dark. We may not have much to share, but we share what we have. Some of our visitors are family, some are friends, many others are our guests because they are friends of friends, passing through. We know no stranger, because we look past our differences to find the roots of what we share—we seek Jesus in each other.
Hospitality often circles back to the table for us. We greet and meet over meals. We pour the tea and pass the biscuits. We lean together in discussion and nod our heads in understanding. We reminisce with laughter, and sometimes with tears. The table between us is not much different than the communion altar, where Jesus calls us to gather as a family, to eat, drink and remember.
Mi casa es su casa. We share a home in this planet. We share a Father in God. We are each the sinner and the saint, the stranger and the friend, seeking a table to share, bread to break and a companion for the journey.
TERA MICHELSON is a writer, photographer, teacher, super-volunteer, mama and wife—not necessarily in that order. When she is not driving a carpool, you will find her baking cupcakes, walking a scruffy dog named Otto or attending a meeting at church or the local school. Tera enjoys thinking and sharing about family faith-building in a complicated world. She lives in a hilly suburb of Cincinnati, OH, with her pastor husband and three teenaged children.