The Place where Hospitality Happens

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, June 9, 2019

By: David May

This past April, Patsy Simril, Barbara Tavenner, and I met in the narthex of New St. Mary’s. It’s one of my favorite places to be here at St. Mary’s. Does that seem odd? What about one of our gorgeous courtyards (where in one the pomegranate is now blooming!); or Little St. Mary’s, saturated with over a century of prayer and song; or the grand bell tower entrance of New St. Mary’s; or our radiant churchyard? I don’t know why, but the narthex of New St. Mary’s tugs at me like no other spot.

We were meeting to pray and talk about making a new beginning with an ancient ministry. The Bible calls it hospitality. We’ll call it our Welcome Ministry. In the Bible, hospitality is a sacred obligation, especially in welcoming strangers; because, you never know who you might be welcoming. It could be someone who is just the right person to ensure the future prosperity of your family; someone who says the one thing you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear; someone who shows you the path to freedom and forgiveness. Or, it could be God. Truthfully, it probably is God drawing near, at least as the Bible often tells the story.

That’s where Patsy, Barbara, and I began our conversation and prayers: by remembering that welcoming people to St. Mary’s is a sacred obligation. It might sound like one of us saying to someone new something simple like ‘good morning’ or ‘welcome to St. Mary’s, I’m glad you’re here’. It could be one of us offering to walk someone to the new parish hall for coffee or giving someone our bulletin. It could be reassuring a young family that you remember trying to corral your own kids when they were little – so don’t worry! God draws near in those moments, I am sure.

Now that I think of it, the narthex is often the place where hospitality happens. It’s the place where we greet one another – new folks, old friends – and see that God is with us. I think the narthex is one of those ‘thin places’ where heaven and earth draw especially near to one another, especially as we welcome and show hospitality for one another. Because, you never know who it might be and what means of God’s grace for you and for all of us they bring with them.