Sacred Stories | Receiving Guests With Compassion and Kindness
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2 NRSV
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language defined hospitality this way: noun [Latin hospitalitas] The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality.
In addition to my work as a chaplain, I’ve been serving as a COVID-19 screener at the main entrance and in the emergency department at our hospital. Being hospitable and welcoming as a COVID-19 screener, and even bringing a bit of comfort or encouragement to our guests, gives me an added sense of mission fulfillment.
One day, I greeted a woman and her husband who had arrived early, before sunrise, for her knee replacement surgery. The woman expressed fear and anxiety about the procedure. I asked her if she was a person of faith; she said yes. I offered to pray for her, which she welcomed. I gave a brief prayer for peace and comfort for her and her husband, for the skill and wisdom of her surgeon, and for quick healing and recovery. After our prayer, the woman looked at me with tears in her eyes and an expression of relief on her face.
It was a special moment that helped me define my service and remind me of the ultimate purpose of each day. I started work at 5:30 a.m. that day – which was a challenge for me, being a night owl – but I was so glad to be there, in the quiet darkness before sunrise, able to go with our patient before God and seek help on her behalf.
It’s interesting that the word “hospital” comes from the same root as “hospitality.” Every day, we receive guests with kindness. I’m proud that this hospital receives all who come here: young and old, rich and poor, from various religious backgrounds, with many skin colors and countries of origin. We are privileged to receive all of our guests, and to extend the healing ministry to the people of our community.
I feel blessed and grateful to be a small part of this ministry. After a full day, I may breathe a sigh of weariness, but that sigh has an equal measure of satisfaction and confidence that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Submitted by Kris Ranney
Questions for Reflection
In what way is your work satisfying at the same time it is challenging?
When was the last time you showed “hospitality” to a guest or stranger in your day-to-day work?
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