The Living New Testament has a lively rendering of a verse in Romans ch. 12 about hospitality: ‘Get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.’
So - a note of thankful challenge to you who are 30-50, both single and married. Your lives, I appreciate, can be both busy and lonely. It is tempting, perhaps especially in that age bracket, to notice how often we receive hospitality; I feel sure it is healthier to ask ourselves how often we give it. The people who have been ‘core Sandyford’ are getting older. There are not so many Robert and Helen Wilsons as there used to be. You are their successors; please make sure we succeed them so that the Bible’s ‘Practise hospitality’ has a future as well as a past in our life.
I admit that it takes a certain courage to break into those circles of students; but if we remember that they are in a circle because it takes courage to be in Sandyford, perhaps that will embolden us to choose one or two and find a date when you can meet them over a coffee or have them to your flat.
William Still of Aberdeen wrote perceptively of factors that affect whether we give hospitality:
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"Every Christian can have a share in (giving) the homely warmth of Christian fellowship. Surely when Christians succeed in getting needy persons to church, the least the rest of us can do is to make them welcome! And yet there is the constant hazard that someone will slip in and out again without anyone speaking to them because they look so shy that they may appear positively forbidding; and timid Christians, probably dying to be friendly, say to themselves ‘I could never speak to her’ or ‘I could never approach him.’
“One of the hindrances to a natural and not over-effusive welcome to visitors is that we need to be friendly to people within the fellowship too, and they often have particular needs, not to say that there are often church and other matters to be discussed between members. But as in our homes, surely the rule must be, visitors first.” (Gilcomston South Record, January 1974).
Please let us bear these things in mind as the college year starts. But this letter is mostly one of admiration and appreciation. To be serving a congregation who give so much care and so much Robert-Wilson-like, smiling welcome and hospitality, is a privilege: thank you.