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hospitalityI facilitated a retreat once for lay ministers on the theme of hospitality. It consisted of three segments: hospitality to ourselves, to others and to God. Hospitality to others was easy enough for people to comprehend but the other two were new concepts for some. Welcoming ourselves means accepting ourselves as we are now in the totality of our being – which does not, of course, mean complacency with those aspects of ourselves that need improvement. Once we got over that hurdle, in theory at least, we had to consider our willingness to treat God as an honored guest in our lives – maybe by remembering to say grace as we gather for a meal to remind us that God is present. And that’s just the start. Offering God a home – a comfortable place – at the center of our hearts takes a deeper kind of awareness and welcome. I’m reminded of that effort this morning by Psalm 98 that speaks of the whole of creation offering such a song of welcome, led by us. It sings:

Praise God till earth itself becomes a song, till seas and all the waters flow and waves begin to dance with land and all the peoples sing. Let every river lift its hands to clap in time, while hills and valleys join in song to offer hospitality to the Holy One, who comes to right our every wrong. (vs. 8-9, alternate translation)