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Did you know? Practicing Hospitality

Posted: January 22 2023 at 09:08 AM
Author: Rev. Arlene Chirostopherson


A selection of the cards received by Bishop Schwerin and Julie

This month’s NIC Reporter is filled with images of welcome. In the conference these days, we are driven by welcome. You only need to look at the conference calendar to see all the ways in which we are engaged in welcoming Bishop Dan Schwerin as our new episcopal leader.  From an Installation Service (on Sunday, February 26th) to Days on the District (the first two weeks of February), to a card shower of notes and well wishes, we have extended a welcome to Bishop Schwerin.
While I have no doubt that the well wishes for our new bishop are greatly appreciated, Hospitality (welcome) is much more; it is a way of life for people of faith.  Our Christian act of welcoming grows out of the scriptures and a theological understanding of hospitality. Jesus talked of care for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Diana Butler Bass observes, “The unanimous witness of the ancient fathers and mothers was that hospitality was the primary Christian virtue.” We practice this ancient act when we reach out to the migrants who are coming to our communities offering food or clothing or financial support. We practice this ancient act when we make our church safe and accessible for all ages. We practice this ancient act when we decode our bulletin and our worship language so the stranger can feel connected or when we send care packages to our college students or military personnel.

Bishop Tshirt

One of the gifts from the cabinet for Bishop Schwerin - a Bears shirt for the Packer fan

During the second week of Bishop Schwerin’s assignment with us, the Cabinet gathered to work, pray, play, eat and grow in relationship with one another and our new bishop. It was a serious time of caring for our congregations and clergy, but it was also a fruitful time of building the community through hospitality. The cabinet gifted the new bishop with signs of appreciation, and Bishop Schwerin surprised the cabinet by gifting us with music bowls calling us to centering, deep spiritual reflection, and prayer.

Bishop Centering Bowl

Bishop Schwerin gifted the Cabinet with Centering bowls

Sometimes it takes a change in our environment to remind us of how important hospitality can be as a spiritual discipline. As we move deeper into the new year with its challenges and concerns, building our work on a foundation of hospitality will ground us in Christ and prepare us for those moments when the world seems more hostile than hospitable.
Be sure to check out those times and places where you can extend your welcome in person over the next few months.

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