I don’t particularly promote myself as having the gift of hospitality. Although I am aware, that as believers in Jesus Christ I am expected to live hospitably. I am growing to see that hospitality and the experience of the stranger can arise in any place. My daughter and I had a rare opportunity to visit a lakeside retreat facility as the guest of a friend. It is one of those that offer in-suite kitchens so that you can prepare your meals should you choose. We decided to head to the nearest food store one of those big box kinds.
There were only about six lanes open in a twenty lane store, so my daughter scouted out the line that was the shortest. Heck we didn’t come to the lake to stand in line at the store. We turned into lane 6 and began our wait. In isle 5 a lady with two baskets of groceries was busily loading the conveyor belt while her teenaged daughter stood at the bagging area. I overheard the conversation as other shoppers wondered how they got in that line with that woman who had all those groceries.
Then a strange thing happened, as the lady was about to begin to place her items on the conveyor. I heard the cashier say, “just do what you need to do and I’ll handle the rest of these items.” The cashier came from behind her register and began to take items off the conveyor and put them back in the basket and rolled it out of the lane. I had never seen a scene like this before. The cashier was gracious and kind. The customer was paying with a food stamp card. The customer kept saying “I don’t know what happened I had $300.00 on there this morning.” I glanced at the teenage daughter, who happened to be looking at me she was morbidly embarrassed. She held her head down and away from the whole scene and had begun to distance herself physically from the checkout line where her mother was overwhelmed. When I glanced at the daughter I felt her pain. I felt my heart break open in that moment.
I had been singing to myself “Hosanna in the highest, let our King be lifted up Hosannna.” It was my way of waiting in the line patiently. The checker’s name was Tanya and she had to call a manager over to work through the situation with the customer who didn’t have enough money. Another customer who was standing in one of the lines spoke to Tanya and then she stood in the line next to the embarrassed woman. I watched as this stranger paid the woman’s grocery balance. The cashier was singing her praises. The customer was stunned and she thanked the stranger who had been so hospitable to she and her daughter.
How often do we limit the idea of hospitality? The dictionary defines hospitality as kindness, warmth and generosity. As my daughter and I paid effortlessly for our purchases we were moved to tears with having witnessed hospitality in our midst.
Join the conversation:
Do a little bible-study. In light of this read James 1:17, 2:14-17, reflect on James’ teaching on works that point to faith.
Do You agree that true belief leads us to action? How might you have served in this situation as the one offering hospitality to the stranger?
Juanita Campbell Rasmus is an inspirational speaker, motivational teacher, author, and founding board member of the Bread of Life Homeless Project. Juanita and her husband Rudy co-pastor Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.