Before supper we went with Joanne to walk the dogs in a nearby park. The birds here are exquisite and different. The brown ones looked very plain walking on the ground. When we got close they took flight revealing white wings bordered with black. Their call sounds like a squeaky toy. The tiny red weaver one comes in yellow two. They build their nests in the trees. We saw a neat looking duck with a white face and red tuft on his head. The little pond also was home for a family of Egyptian geese.
Supper last night was scrumptious. We sat at a high table out on the porch. We are being bathed in love by Dave, Joanne and Jenna. Joanne offered me the ultimate in hospitality when she asked me if I’d like to bless the meal. Although they do not claim Christianity, they live the “Way” of Christ. They are loving and accepting of all people – and they of course live among God’s infinite variety. They care for people and animals with a deep passion. As a family they volunteer in orphanages and animal shelters. Part of living that acceptance and love was Joanne’s willingness to welcome my commitment to living my faith.
For sure, her gesture added was giant gift of love that has made a positive difference throughout the world.
Last week, I spent time with Psalm 15. It inspired the following .
God welcomes all,
All people, all faiths, all races.
We build the barriers
Around our hearts.
We wall God in.
We slam the door.
We turn away.
Our loving, forgiving God waits,
It’s only one step.
Just one short step.
Open the door.
There is no lock.
Pull down the barrier
It’s merely an illusion.
Sink into God’s love.
God is waiting.
Summer has arrived. Tom and I have moved outside to enjoy our deck and our yard. Compared to our old place in Dunsford, this yard is a postage stamp. Still I have a tiny garden brimming over with lettuce, peas and garlic. Pots of flowers add splashes of colour here and there. A maple tree, big enough to provide the illusion of shade, stands proudly in the centre, giving rise to dreams of spreading branches filled with the laughter of future great-grandchildren. There’s just enough space for our garden swing on its little patio. Already our yard is a sanctuary, a beautiful island for quiet conversation and contemplation in the middle of the city.
A friend came by and said, “You have no fence”
“True, I can look right into my neighbours’ yards and enjoy their flowers, see them at work in their gardens, hear their laughter, watch their children play. In fact, one day our neighbour’s beautiful 3 year old checked out our family gathering. He stayed less than a minute. Guess our conversation wasn’t interesting enough. Some people say that “Good fences make good neighbours.” There may be some truth to that. I don’t know. Being a permanent city resident is a new experience for me.
Right now, I’m glad there’s no fence. A fence would keep us in and friends out. Living in the country has taught us the value of knowing our neighbours. Our back yard can provide a wonderful opportunity for us to make friends on our street.
Whether our visitors are children and their parents, or the birds flitting to and fro from the birdhouses to the feeder, or the wee chipmunk and soft white rabbit both stuffing their cheeks with birdseed, I’m glad our yard is open to guests. We are truly blessed and we want to share those blessings.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:8-10)
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Why Share Our Beautiful Country
By Janet Stobie
We’ve just celebrated Canada Day. To my mind, we live in the best country in the world. Beginning with the wealth of beauty and resources that come with this vast land and ending with our people, with all our faults, we live in peace and harmony with one another. We are truly blessed.
This past spring, I helped our grandson with a school essay about the issue of immigration to our country. He had done research so that he could argue both for and against immigration from the perspective of experts in the field. His final section required his own opinion about our Canadian mosaic that is so proudly projected by our government.
Tim compared our country to that of a living ecosystem. He talked of the necessity for variety, and the interdependent relationships that exist in order for the ecosystem to continue. His metaphor illustrated the tremendous treasure immigrants can be for our country. Then he spoke about how Canadians are blessed by giving people the opportunity to begin a new life in Canada. He gets it, I thought. My grandson understands the true value of hospitality, the true wonder of this beautiful country we call Canada.
With all our faults as a nation and as individuals, most Canadians know that our freedom and peace are gifts to be shared with the world. We complain about our taxes, even as we send our children off to school knowing we have an educational system that is accessible to all of our people. We wait in the hospital emergency room, knowing we’ll not have to mortgage our home to pay the bill. We choose to play golf on Sunday morning secure in the knowledge that others can worship as they choose without fear.
Today and every day I give thanks to God that I live in Canada. I believe this blessing is a gift to be shared not hoarded, for the Bible tells us that blessings rot and decay in storage.
“And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. (Exodus 16:18-20
In our land of abundance, “No one will ever leave our home hungry,” is often a family tradition. In many places, hospitality can mean the difference between life and death, physically or emotionally. Visitors to the poorest nations are amazed by the generous sharing of food that often leaves the host family hungry. Regularly, foreign guests are offered lodging in dwellings already overcrowded.
The Bible speaks about the importance of hospitality. Like the word hospital, hospitality comes from the Latin word for healing. Much of the time, as hosts, we are unaware of the healing that our guests need. We welcome friends and family, sometimes feeling like Martha, overworked, hurried, glad to see our guests and already wondering exactly when they will leave.
Today, I offer you another way. From the moment you know they are coming, whether months before, or as you hear the knock on the door, wrap your guests in prayer.
• Ask God, not only for a safe journey to and from your home, but also for joy along the way. Pray that their eyes, ears and hearts will be open to glimpses of God’s Kingdom.
• Prepare their room with prayer for restful sleep. Fill the room with loving thoughts.
• Focus on your good memories with them, and good experiences you hope to have as you prepare the food you will share.
• Give God thanks for the gift of their visit each morning as you wake and each night as go to sleep.
• As they leave, ask for God’s blessing upon their lives not just for the return journey, but always.
Wrapping your guests in prayer will ensure that you offer them an experience of healing. That is true Biblical hospitality.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1Peter 4:9-10)