devozine

Spiritual Practice

WIDENING THE CIRCLE

Loren Mitchell & Cindy Shanks

How can we welcome others as God welcomes us?

 

by offering radical hospitality

We had flown all night “across the pond” to stay with total strangers in another country. After wearily dragging our suitcases through the airport and hailing a cab to take us through the city, my friend Katherine and I arrived at a house on a lovely street with rows of tall, narrow homes stacked side by side. I’m not sure which felt heavier—my bag or the bundle of nerves in my stomach.

Ingrid met us at the door and greeted us in a voice with an Irish lilt. She gave us a house tour, which concluded with our sunny little bedroom overlooking the garden. That afternoon we met her husband and their three young children, who welcomed us again. For four months we became a part of their family, dwelling in their home and eating meals together.

With a spirit of radical hospitality, this family opened their home to us—and not only to us, but to many students through the years. When we had to leave, I was sadder than I ever thought possible. I love receiving their annual Christmas letter and hearing how their lives have changed and how the children are growing into young adults.

“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Matthew 25:35 (NIV)

Would you open your home or your church to a stranger? Do you welcome newcomers with radical hospitality? Is there always room at your table? Do you invite others to be part of your family? How might you widen your circle? How might you link arms with others and invite them to be part of your life?

—Loren Mitchell

 

DIG DEEPER

by creating and extending community

Everyone wants to belong. It’s part of being human. So what if we provided ways for people to find acceptance and belonging? Team up with your friends to create opportunities for people in your area to experience community. Here are a few ideas:

  • Get involved with a cause that is close to your heart. For instance, if you are an athlete, enroll in a sponsored sporting event to raise money and awareness for your favorite charity.
  • Offer your talents to help people. Perhaps a church, a neighborhood, or a community park needs sprucing up. You could be the help they need.
  • Think about people in your community who might need cheering up. Invite your friends to help you write and deliver “thinking of you” cards to these people.
  • Make something for someone. Are you a baker? Are you gifted at hanging shelves or pictures? Maybe you enjoy creating gift baskets. Think of ways you can be a blessing to a group or an individual who needs a hand.
  • Share your skills. If you are good with technology, many older people would appreciate your knowledge. Help them to set up a social media account to connect with friends. Or volunteer to build an online presence where they can support one another.
  • Come up with ideas of your own to create and extend community right where you are. What strengths and skills can you offer your community? How can you reach out to others?

—Cindy Shanks

—from devozine (September/October 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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