…from Pastor Bill

Dear Pittman Park family,

In the book, Untamed Hospitality: Welcoming God and Other Strangers, Elizabeth Newman shares her belief that the church, without meaning to, tends to trivialize hospitality. Newman suggests that true Christian hospitality is a matter that draws the believer to connect on a deeper level with our neighbor and therefore with God. Hospitality at its best always finds a way into the hearts of both those who serve and those who are served. Saint Augustine once wrote: “You take in some stranger, whose companion in the way you yourself also are, for we are all strangers.” What a fascinating way of looking at hospitality! The stranger in me welcomes the stranger in you. Perhaps this is at least part of what Jesus was getting at when he told the parable about the good …Samaritan. I’m not sure Jesus would have agreed with the logic of the old proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Jesus’ hospitality always challenged the barriers that kept people apart.

Dating back to the early church, a Christian greeting has always been a part of the liturgy. Out of an abundance of caution during the pandemic, I confess that we have let that slip from our order of worship over the past couple of years. I was delighted when a dear soul here at Pittman Park requested just this past week that we might reinstate the “Passing of the Peace” in our worship services. I like that phrase because it acknowledges an almost sacramental significance within this simple little act. It is intended to lead us into a greeting that includes our awareness of the presence of Christ. The sharing of Christ is a beautiful thing! To
intentionally look for the presence of Christ in those around you can be deeply moving. It becomes a moment of connection with others …and God.

The community of faith is strengthened by our willingness to sincerely treasure the persons with whom God has provided us a congregational connection. But, untamed hospitality takes this one step further by calling us to go beyond welcoming those with whom we are familiar. When we embrace untamed hospitality, we welcome those around us as fellow strangers in the love of Christ.

I am grateful for the strong history of welcome and inclusion through Pittman Park. It is my prayer that this will always be a place of untamed hospitality!