Kudos to the City of Wilmington for showing us what hospitality looks like. For several days last week there was a lighted sign on the corner of Baynard and Concord with huge arrows directing people to one of our signature events, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival.
Given our closed bridges, detours, and construction, someone realized that for out-of-towners getting to Rodney Square right now is no picnic in the park. And so anticipating the confusion and frustration of people seeking some smooth jazz, temporary signs were set up at key intersections so people might get to the park in time for the opening set.
Early one morning while driving past the sign it dawned on me that authentic hospitality is necessarily proactive; it is about anticipating someone’s wants and needs before they even show up, and then setting the stage for their arrival. True hospitality happens when we “walk a mile” in someone’s shoes – but even more, to do it before we even meet them!
What a great reminder for the church. Hospitality demands that we ask ourselves: what are the things that make it challenging for people to be with us? Hospitality requires that we step outside of our own experiences and perspectives so that we might anticipate and appreciate the wants and needs of others. Then hospitality insists that we alter our landscape: to light our signs and set our stage for those who have come to enjoy our music with us.
Finally…I offer the best (Biblical) reason and rationale for hospitality of all: Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)