Hospitality takes many forms. There is that hospitality we usually think of—one of the traditional acts of mercy—in which the stranger is welcomed, the hungry fed, the naked clothed. But there is another sort of hospitality, and I experienced it yesterday at our Thanksgiving dinner. The hospitality I experienced yesterday was that which the apostle Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul advises the church in Corinth to eat whatever is placed before them without worrying whether the meat had been used in sacrifices. Though a bit of an exegetical leap, it seems to me that today welcoming food prepared in love can be a similar form of hospitality to that described by Paul.
So, dinner last night. As regular readers of the Tokens Blog know, I am currently living in Germany working on my PhD. At times the homesickness can be overwhelming, and my adviser, knowing this, organized a Thanksgiving dinner last night at a local restaurant. It had everything. Free-range turkey that had been brought in from a near-by suburb; dressing; cranberry sauce; mashed potatoes; red cabbage; pumpkin salad; and, for dessert, a pumpkin pie with homemade ice cream. It was fabulous.
However, I am entertaining a guest this week, who is a vegetarian. Typically she forgoes turkey on Thanksgiving, but, when she saw the care and love with which the meal had been organized and prepared, she leaned over to me and said, “I’m going to eat some of the turkey.” I was deeply moved by this small, yet rather large, gesture. In my mind, accepting the gift of that meal was a sort of hospitality, one that affirms the goodness of the gift-giver. Those who fixed the meal will likely never know about the gesture that my guest made, but they know they were able to extend a very special gift and that it was received thankfully.
May we all look for small, yet rather large, ways of extending hospitality in all its forms.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Craig D. Katzenmiller is Tokens’ Social Media Editor. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in Liturgical Theology and Ethics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.