Yesterday at our Presbytery meeting we were hosted by a congregation known for its exquisite hospitality. Usually the meetings start with coffee. Yesterday the meeting started with coffee and homemade ham biscuits with a choice between “City Ham” and “Country Ham.” Some of us chose both.
A lot is written about hospitality in congregations, but we sometimes conflate rules of etiquette with letting people know they are included. Hospitality is less about the right fork and more about including the newcomers, the visitors, the lost, and the ones who don’t particularly want to be there.
Each of those people can be found in church meetings.
Many of us are busy at these kinds of meetings. And yet the first priorities must be about people rather than process. Yesterday, I witnessed:
- People standing in line to welcome new pastors.
- Lavish applause offered to newly elected leaders.
- Grace given to people whose microphones didn’t work.
- Accommodations made for people who needed help getting around.
- Accommodations made for people with young children.
- Lots of laughter.
- Two kinds of ham biscuits.
We crave authentic community in these days and it’s not about being in a crowded room. It’s about being with people who see us and appreciate us and celebrate with us and cry with us. It’s about looking around and seeing people who don’t look like us or speak like us, but caring about what happens to them. This is Church at its best.