In these times there are lots of boundaries being drawn and fought over relating to “us” versus “them.” Who are “we” and who are “they?” This can be summed up with the idea of welcome.
What about the outsider outside of our neighborhood?
The foreigner who lives on the other side of Halsted Street, the boundary of our neighborhood; or the person outside the neighborhood who prays on a rug five times a day; or the outsider who lives in a neighborhood where people park their cars on the lawn and repair them on the street; or the rich man who doesn’t want to live among us.
The truth is that every local community of any kind is a group of specially connected people. But the very fact of their special connection necessarily creates outsiders. An association of Labrador Retriever owners, without intention, makes outsiders of Poodle owners. And every neighborhood necessarily creates outsiders by establishing boundaries. The question is, what kind of boundary is it? Is it a boundary of superiority and exclusion, a dangerous place to approach? Or is it the edge of a place that has a welcome at the door?
The challenge is to keep expanding the limits of our hospitality. Our willingness to welcome strangers. This welcome is the sign of a community confident in itself. It has nothing to fear from the outsider. The outsider has gifts, insights, and experiences to share for our benefit. So we look forward to sharing our culture, gifts, and associations with others.
Who is one person who you could share gifts with today who is “outside” your community in one way or another? Can you invite one other person to join you …perhaps a coworker, fellow congregant, neighbor, or someone you live with? How will work together to “expand the limits of your hospitality?”
McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (p. 138-139). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.