When we enter into a home or church and feel warmly welcomed, we soon realize the love among those who are already there is what makes that welcome possible. Everyone longs to enter such a place, where all are welcome, where we can lay our burdens down, where we can heal the wounded heart.
This kind of welcoming community begins with an inviting hospitality, where the stranger feels safe to discover his or her own gifts. This invitation is more than an expression of love for the guest. It is a living sign of God’s friendship offered to all people. This powerful love of a Christian community conveys an authentic message: we love you, we need you, and we are incomplete without you.
As simple acts of trust and kindness build intimacy, there is an increasing openness to risk and vulnerability. We know the wounds in our own lives and in the lives of others. We know we are hurting. We deeply long to know in our hearts that we are loved by God and the Christian community as we are: hurt people. We want to break the cycle of hurting and personally know God’s gentleness, mercy, and forgiveness. And loving relationships are a direct sign of God’s healing grace.
Early in our marriage, my wife and I prayed that if God helped us to own a home, it would also be his home and we would share it with whoever came our way. We ended up in a 100-year-old house with many rooms and a large yard. For many years now, it has been a place for people to gather for food, song, and stories. It has been a safe haven for the weary traveler. It has been a place for friends, strangers, and several refugees to share love and life, laughter and tears, hopes and dreams fulfilled, and losses mourned. Visitors have gifted us with music, pumpkin carvings, Christmas stories, children, and pets.
Our home has been a place where God’s friendship has healed hearts through conversations and prayers, stories and songs, and breaking bread. In this holy space, we discovered that the walls of fear and indifference are broken down through listening, forgiveness, gratitude, prayer, and relationships. When gathered around the table with people of all races, religions, and cultures, we share in God’s amazing gift of the diverse human family. We discover the connection between the Lord’s table in our home and the Lord’s table in our parish community.
“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts” Gaudium et Spes (On the Church in the Modern World).
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Greg “Dobie” Moser, D.Min, is the Executive Director, Youth and Young Adult Ministry and CYO in the Diocese of Cleveland. He holds an MA in Family Systems Counseling, and his doctoral work focused on leadership development within the family. He and his wife, Lisa, are proud parents of seven children.