hospitality, summerI’ve just returned to work after some time off. It is hard to believe that summer, as we define it as July and August, is half gone. Don’t tell the kids, but they’ll be back to school before they know it. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly time flows by. Plans that were set in motion months ago, are coming to fruition and many a well-intentioned project will need to wait for another year.

Summer is also a time when we open our doors and welcome people in. Whether it is an invitation to the cottage, a BBQ or a walk along the boardwalk the summer season finds us engaging with our neighbours. In the winter we wave as we shovel our drives, in summer we walk over, discuss gardens and what the weekend will bring.

in Cobourg, we welcome many visitors to our town during the summer. They come and enjoy the beach, the shops and the ability to relax with family and friends. As they travel through our community what is the welcome they receive? Businesses rely heavily on the tourists who travel to our community, do we welcome people or are we ambivalent to their presence, perhaps viewing it as a nuisance.

The gospels are full of accounts where Jesus and the disciples visit villages. Usually, the welcome is warm, but there was the occasion where Jesus was almost thrown off a cliff. In addition to travelling to villages, Jesus often taught and spoke to large gatherings of people who were interested in the message he shared about God’s kingdom. In each of these instances Jesus extends hospitality and grace to the people that he encounters. His actions serve as a reminder on how we should interact with the people who cross our paths.

It raises the question, what does it mean to welcome people? Is it allowing them to enter our space in peace? Should we go beyond this and actively welcome people? As church’s and communities of faith this question has further reaching implications, how do we welcome newcomers into the worshiping community? Is our response different for people raised in the church versus those who have never darkened the door of a sanctuary? Do we extend the same welcome to the rich and poor alike?

Are our churches welcoming places? When people visit, whether for the first or hundredth time, is the hospitality and grace that Jesus offered to those who followed him given to those who seek to follow him today?

I don’t know if it’s true, but I once read that most people ‘shop’ for a new church during the summer. A time of year when find ourselves enjoying the warm weather and increased interactions with our neighbours. The reality is that people are asking spiritual questions, questions of deep faith all the time. Are we ready to engage with them, to welcome and love them, just as Jesus welcomes and loves us?

Before the warmth of summer fades ensure that you share the hospitality and grace of Jesus with those that you encounter on the road.