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March 6, 2017 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Radical Hospitality

 

welcome to the summer

Charlie and Jo’s cardinal virtue was radical hospitality. They had fourteen children, seven of whom were adopted, three with disabilities. In addition, each time one of their children turned seventeen years of age, another seventeen-year-old from overseas was invited to live with them for a year as part of an international exchange program. Students came from Germany, the Philippines, Bolivia, Italy, the Middle East and Chile. More urgently, refugees from Hungary, Morocco and Vietnam as well as an American orphan found a safe harbor over many years in their home.

As the first grandchild born to this expansive, welcoming family, I grew up recognizing foreign as familiar, global as local, and diverse as approximating perfection.

Faith informed our familial culture and was at the heart of my grandparents’ generosity and inclusivity. Champions of racial, environmental and social justice, lavishly generous and unconditionally welcoming, it was clear to me, even as a child, that the Gospel was at the center of their lives.

For I was hungry and you gave me food,

I was thirsty and you gave me drink,

a stranger and you welcomed me,

naked and you clothed me,

ill and you cared for me,

in prison and you visited me.

We may disagree on the best policies – nationally and internationally – to provide people with access to food, clean water, housing, health care and justice but if we profess to be Christian, then we can’t abdicate our responsibility to ensure that people do have such access. The Gospel makes clear: to do nothing is to be complicit.

In the midst of acrimonious national disagreement, in the face of heightened anxiety especially for vulnerable members of our communities, in this exigent season of Lent, I am aware of the invitation at hand: to be profoundly sorry for my own complicity and culpability, to seek reconciliation, to make amends, and in gratitude for God’s mercy resolve to be more loving, more welcoming, more radically hospitable, just as the Gospel enjoins.

 

 

 

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