I have a friend who is Hindu, and formally, she is addressed as Swami (I believe there is more to her title, but I am a bit out of my league with the language). As she goes about in the world with her ready smile, shaved head, and orange robes, she is most certainly noticeable. She often greets people, and even my dog, with “Oh! I have been waiting for you!” She says this, not with a sense of “Where have you been, you are late!” but with the sense of great openness and hospitality that creates a sense of belonging even before one arrives. It is a gift that is wonderful to witness and to receive.
This, of course, is the sort of hospitality that Christians should extend. However, my friend told me that recently some young men, claiming to be Christians, announced to her, and not in a loving way, that she was, without a doubt, going to hell. Now, she is secure in her faith, but it did leave her wondering how professed followers of Jesus could be so unwelcoming. I often wonder that myself, and I know I am not alone. I think some of the breach comes from a misguided notion that some are broken, and some are not. That some are saved and some are not. That somehow, only Christians can experience God, despite a very rich and diverse world that is brimming with a variety of cultures and faith traditions.
Certainly such prejudice is not limited to Christians. We see this prejudice tragically played out across the world. Yet, I think for those of us who claim that we follow the way of Jesus, the call is to always to be reaching out with love. Reconciling with love. And receiving with love. That is the gift, and the responsibility of the communion table. There can be no feast if we do not generously share in love. The rest we leave to God.
Rev. Sue Ann
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him,” Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly (Luke 19:5-6).
The way we answer the door is the way we deal with the world…When the person knocks – whenever the person knocks – the porter [the one whose responsibility is is to answer the door] is to say, “Thanks be to God” or “Your blessing, please” to indicate the gift the guest is to the community. The porter is to be warmth and welcome at all times, not just when it feels convenient. In the Rule of Benedict, there is no such thing as coming out of time to the monastery. Come in the middle of lunch; come in the middle of prayer; come and bother us with your blessings at any time. There is always someone waiting for you.
– The Rule of St. Benedict, Joan Chittister, O.S.B.