Here are the words of Jesus my staff and I are focusing on this fall: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; naked and you clothed me.” (Matt. 25: 35-36)
Not everybody agrees on exactly what Jesus meant by these words: Was he referring to treatment of the poor in general or was he referring only to our compassion for fellow believers? Is this a picture of the judgment at the end of the world? Should you be opening your home to strangers? Are you and I responsible for starving children in third world countries? Who are the sheep? Who are the goats? (See the full story – Matt. 31-46.)
These are questions worth pondering for sure, and as you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts (send them “attention Phil” to firstname.lastname@example.org). For now, while I don’t claim to have the definitive answer as to what Jesus meant, I do know this: God loves the poor. He expects us to love them, as well, and He expects us to demonstrate that love in concrete ways. When we do, we honor Him.
Safety concerns may prevent you from inviting a stranger into your home and wisdom may warn you away from giving cash to a panhandler, but through your partnership with the Union Gospel Mission, you are loving the poor in ways they can experience – hot showers, clean pajamas, warm meals, comfortable beds, and medical care. You are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger. Like the Good Samaritan, you are helping to connect people with the care and resources they need to get back on their feet.
We hope you will think of our home as an extension of yours. Come serve a meal or sit down to dinner with the men, women and children who are living at our shelters. Hear their stories. Work in the clothing room. Check-in guests at the Crisis Shelter. Hand out clean towels and pajamas. Extend the love of Christ through conversation and a smile.
Webster defines hospitality as “the generous and cordial reception of guests.” That’s what you’re doing – extending a generous and cordial reception to the homeless.