Hospitality and Segregation

Please, come in and sit down.
Oh, wait, not there!
That’s not where you can sit.
This is where you can sit.

The south is famous for two things besides humidity. The first is our hospitality. We are extremely hospitable. We smile at strangers on the street, and if you come to someone’s house for dinner, don’t think that you’ll get away without having seconds or thirds of the amazing spread on the table.

The second is our history of segregation. The civil rights movement, and the backlash from those who liked things the way they were is part of a history that we need to remember. Even though it is an ugly past, there are rays of hope, especially in seeing how far we have come. But there are still bigots who don’t realize what they are saying.

The south is famous for it’s anachronisms, it seems. How can we be so good at welcoming people in, while being famous for our history of keeping others separated? Are we only good at practicing hospitality with people we like? I imagine that other parts of the country do ok at that as well. Maybe we need to remember how our hospitality allows us to reach out. Then when we feel like we might be avoiding a group, we can remember what else we might do.

As Christians, we are called to radical hospitality. Jesus tells of a parable of a man who was preparing a great feast. And the guests that he invited said they were busy, so he went out into the streets, and invited the lame, the beggars, and the blind to come to the feast. And they filled the table with them. Even the evil share a table with their friends, how much more do we need to share our table with strangers. With those who might not look, talk, or think like us. And don’t get all high and mighty on me, we need to share our table with the bigots. Only by sharing love and compassion will we ever learn to change.


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