18 Jul Thursday
For years I worked for Unbound, when it was the Christian Foundation our Children and Aging; I travelled to almost all the states and preached for these missions in 317 parishes on weekends in the course of seven years. Typically my flight landed and often someone, rarely the priest, would pick me up at the airport. And the hospitality began, or not. Often the priest, if he was alone in the parish, took advantage of my arrival for the weekend to get away himself for a much needed break. Then I was housed alone in his rectory. Perhaps it was the pastor who had a pet python loose in the rectory which he failed to tell me about, but I learned quickly in these travels that hospitality could sometimes be very sketchy, if not outright inhospitable. On the other hand there was the rectory with the most fully stocked bar of scotches, bourbons, ryes, and cognacs I’ve ever seen in my life, and he left a note to help myself.
Parishioners in these places were consistently very generous and helpful, concerned that their visiting priest was well taken care of and fed. There was actually one place on the west coast that was utterly inhospitable and rude, against which I literally drove the airport rental to the edge of town, got out, and shook the dirt of that town off my shoes.
Hospitality is a lot of work,. It seems to be so right now in our country, because we have become an inhospitable nation. If we had been in Abraham’s shoes and saw strangers coming up out of the desert, we would have arrested them incarcerating them in inhumane conditions. Abraham offers them a feast. Where is our feast? Why are we afraid? What has become of us that we’ve gotten this point in our culture and history?