Summary: Be hospitable to strangers without grumbling. Open your homes to people and use it as a chance to minister. Have a fervent love for one another despite our faults.
I Peter 4:7 – 10 reads, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all tings have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Gander, Canada. Population 9,600 Located smack dab in the middle of Newfoundland. Canada’s most eastern province along the Atlantic. It boasts a community center, an aviation museum, four city parks, and Gander Mall. If you like, today is the last day you can attend the Don Bartlett Curling Classic in Gander.
Gander has been a very average town for most of its history except on the day of 9-11 last year. You see, Gander doubled its population in one day. 52 planes were redirected to that small town in the wake of the 9-11 disaster. One of the flight attendants for Delta tells how the town of Gander became more than average.
“We had to tell the passengers that the Canadian government was in charge and we were at their mercy. True to their word, Gander airport told our plane could unload passengers at 11 a.m. ------ the next morning. That took the last wind out of the passengers and they simply resigned and accepted that they would be staying overnight in an airplane.
10:30 the next morning, a convoy of school buses showed up at the side of the plane and took the passengers to the terminal. They were all told to relax and wait for a call that would redirect the flights. That call didn’t come until two days later. What I really wanted to tell you was what happened in those two days. We found out that Gander and all surrounding communities converted all high schools, meeting halls, lodges and churches into a mass lodging area. Some had cots set up. Some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows. All the high school students HAD to volunteer taking care of the new ‘guests.’
Our passengers were put in a high school. If any woman wanted to be put in a woman-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All elderly passengers were given no choice – they got to stay in private homes. The pregnant lady on our flight was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent care facility. Phone calls and emails were available to be made when requested.
During the day, passengers were given a choice of “excursion trips.” Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went to see the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the school; others were driven to the restaurant of their choice. They were given local Laundromat tokens to wash their clothes, since their luggage was still on board.
In other words, every single need was met for those unfortunate travelers. Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. It was absolutely incredible, when passengers came on board after their stay in Gander it was like they were on a cruise. A collection of over forty thousand dollars was taken on just our plane to fund scholarships for the high school students. Why, all of this? Just because some people in far away places were kind to some strangers, who happened to literally drop in among them? WHY NOT?
If you’re looking for a good definition of hospitality, I think we have just heard one. Paul says, “Be hospitable to strangers without grumbling.” The Greek word for hospitality is two words joined together. One word means “be kind,” and the other is the word for “strangers.” It is kindness to those you may not know; sharing generously what you have with others. It’s a spirit of welcome and kindness to strangers, to Christian visitors in our community, and also to people who are strangers to God, using our homes and churches to give them rest and refreshment.
You may not know that the word, “hospital” comes from the word hospice in Latin, which meant a home which became a haven of rest for people. Believers opened up their homes and had people stay there as they were traveling. Eventually they became known as hospitals. It was the church that started the hospitals. We didn’t have hospitals. It was the church that started the hospitals. We didn’t have hospitals before the family of God began them around the 5th century. A haven for guests was their original intent.
As we look at today’s scripture, Peter writes it in a very interesting manner. He tells us that the end of all things is close at hand. There is urgency in his voice as he tells the church in Asia Minor how to be watchful and serious in prayer. How to be sober-minded and of good sense about the days at hand. Peter says that they must, above all things, have fervent love for each other. The words for “fervent” love means continuous and eager love. Love that will not let go and love that will continue on.