Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hospitality

This morning I attended the meeting of the local downtown business/residents association. A parishioner attended with me to help me get acquainted with some of the important people down there. It was hard trying to meet and greet as many people as possible as I'm quite new to the whole 'networking' thing. I don't know how to work a room.

After the meeting, she took me out to breakfast at her favorite little cafe downtown which she goes to every week for lunch. When we were about to sit down, another parishioner who will be moving back east soon entered and we invited her to sit with us. She's having a hard time leaving the congregation she's been a part of for over thirty years, and it was nice to have her sit and eat with us.

The parishioner who took me out to breakfast is going to celebrate her 85th birthday tomorrow. The owner of the cafe then brought out a cake to give to her in honor and as a gift to a frequent
customer. At 10:00 this morning, I was eating a slice of Italian cream cake dessert after a delicious breakfast.

In all of this, I realized part of my work here in Omaha is about hospitality. The downtown organization was fairly welcoming to me as a lowly intern from that one church off Capitol Street. We were welcoming to a parishioner who was having a hard time leaving us. The cafe owner was welcoming to someone who might otherwise be seen as 'just a customer.'

How is the Church welcoming? And how does the Church accept the hospitality around her?

What do we do with those people who show up one Sunday and never come back? The problem could be that we assume that they'll never come back anyway, so why bother? Or maybe we're over-enthusiastic, overwhelming them?

And today's Forward Day by Day meditation talks about bread. Delicious bread: it's both a staple food and also one of the most delicious things ever made. Perhaps we should have a fresh loaf on hand to give to new people. Maybe we should also take a piece off the loaf so they remember that we have broken bread with them and that our house (well, God's house) is open for them.

1 comment:

Country Parson (Steven Woolley) said...

Speaking as a confirmed introvert, work the room clockwise. Most people do it the other way round, so you can meet those who are standing still, and those who are moving along from person to person. Say hello to anyone you recognize and then introduce yourself to anyone else standing with them. Look around for one who is standing alone and make a point of visiting with them. After one or two circuits, work your way through the center, but avoid getting entangled in groups surrounding "the one." Then find a place to be and stay there. Let others come to you. Scan the crowd from there, and if there is someone who appears to need special attention, go provide it. And NEVER, NEVER, look over the shoulder of one who is talking to you to see if there is someone more important you should be visiting.

Future lessons will include: How to escape with dignity; Making notes for followup; Fruitful partnerships with extroverts; The importance of retreating to a private place.