Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2, NIV
When was the last time that you were new at something, whether it involved a task, a new job or a move to a new neighborhood? Do you remember how it felt to be a beginner on some level? My hunch is that you felt alone at some point, possibly like a stranger.
I was talking with a friend the other day about the significant career change that she is making. This experience definitely includes some parallels to feeling like a stranger. She has selected some key certifications to earn as a way to codify her knowledge in new areas. She is also exploring nonprofit pro bono consulting opportunities that would enable her to gain experience and give back to worthy causes in the meantime. The certifications and consulting will be helpful resume builders that will hopefully catch the eye of future employers. Here’s the real gem, though: a former colleague has helped her to land an unpaid internship that will fill in some gaps in her experience. It doesn’t get much better than that as a stranger to the foreign land of a new profession. A friend in that foreign land opens the door and extends to you some radical hospitality, and suddenly you are no longer alone. No longer a stranger, either. This particular act of hospitality also sent another message: “I believe in you, and I’m glad you’re here.”
We often think of hospitality as being welcoming to visitors at church or providing something like food and/or shelter. This is often the case, but I like to think of hospitality as a spirit that we bring into a relationship and not just an act of service that we demonstrate from time to time. There is a kind of generosity that comes with hospitalityan effort to anticipate and cheerfully make available whatever knowledge, information, support or other resources necessary to help the stranger feel like a friend. When we bring a spirit of hospitality into relationships, it is as if we are acknowledging that it isn’t easy to be the new person on the scene. There is a sense of wanting to ease the transition and help the other person to feel comfortable and to be successful at whatever they are attempting.
Who can you show hospitality to this week? If you have a new neighbor, maybe you can be the one to stop by and invite them to the periodic potlucks that everyone else just seems to know about without any obvious communication. If you have a new colleague, maybe you can show them how to wrangle that pesky printer or copier that always seems to seize up in the middle of your biggest project. You get the idea. When you are new to something or someplace, it makes all the difference in the world to know that you have at least one person in your corner. We turn from being strangers to friends by making an effort to extend ourselves in hospitality one relationship at a time.