One morning they decided to greet me loudly from the patio wall. I awoke to their shouts and felt this request for breakfast. Being me, I went and found some nuts and fed them. Well, that did it. They soon had me trained to feed them breakfast!
When I would go out for a walk, they would be hanging out in the trees. They would call out to me like, “Hey human have a good walk.” I would greet them back and head out for my walk. As I returned they would greet me, “Hey human welcome back.” I would return the greeting.
Our friendships grew. One couple decided to nest outside my kitchen window. We worked out what they needed to feel safe and secure. I hung cloth to give them privacy from the activity of a kitchen. The dining room patio became their room. I would go out and check on them. They were patient, watching me as I checked on their babies. It was beautiful to watch them grow.
I found myself caring for the magpies on the road. I provided nourishment for them. I laughed with them. Chatted and hung out with them. Encouraged their hilarity and zest for life. Protected them as much as I could. My place became a safe haven for magpie.
When I left, I had 26 magpie coming to breakfast every morning. Word got around about this safe haven on Blueberry Hill.
Here is what they taught me. Hospitality is a huge part of growth, especially church growth. If my place was not welcoming and nourishing they would not have come.
But because I offered a place that was safe, welcoming, nourishing the numbers continued to grow. It was like the magpie were telling and bringing their friends to this human who took care of them. It was an awesome and sometimes overwhelming experiencing.
When we answer Spirit’s call to care for God’s people, growth is organic. Word gets out. Hey, check out that congregation that is totally welcoming. I heard about this church down the road where you are completely safe and welcome to be fully who you are. They take care of you!
As we are preparing our vision for the new St Paul’s, hospitality is key. As we prepare our strategic plan and action items, each needs to reflect the depth of the spiritual discipline of hospitality.
How is our worship offering hospitality?
How is our spiritual formation offerings caring for those who are seeking a deeper connection with Spirit?
How is our mission and justice work creating a safe nurturing place for people, caring for their needs?
In all that we do, Spirit continues to invite us to steep our ministry in hospitality.
How are you providing hospitality this week? on Sundays? to your neighbors?