In biblical times, hospitality was expected and homes were open to travelers. Inns were few and far between, and often dangerous places to stay. I’ve wondered on occasion what this hospitality command would look like in my Bible Belt culture where we have as many hotels as we have churches.
The past two weeks, I’ve not only seen this love, I have experienced it.
When I accepted my new position at a school in Louisville, I knew personally one couple here; Kevin and Patricia Smith, two of my parent’s best friends in ministry and in life. And they took it upon themselves to make sure this sojourner was well loved.
They weren’t ok with me staying in a hotel until I found an apartment, so they asked a friend from church if I could stay with her. She said yes without ever even speaking to me. The plan was to take it a week at a time, and stay with her until I found an apartment and could move in.
When I arrived at her house yesterday, she told me that it would be crazy for me to pay a mortgage and apartment rent when she has this house, so if I could handle her, I was welcome to stay with her until my house sells in Chattanooga.
We chatted all evening about foster care and teaching. Mrs. Pat dropped by to check on me and make sure I was settled in. Then she took me to get buttermilk pie for dessert and drive me around the area.
This morning, Pamela, my host, made enough coffee for both of us and helped me figure out how long it would take to get to school because of last night’s flooding and regular traffic issues.
Then, as I was walking out the door, she said, “You know, I don’t even know your last name. What is it?”
That is loving a sojourner. Not needing the details, but just knowing the need and meeting it.
As my sister said last week, “People are strangers. Until they are not.”
And in the unity of the Spirit, we may be sojourners, but we are never truly strangers.