by Derek Yoder, Laurelville Guest Services staff 

On Sunday afternoons at Laurelville, you will often find me closing buildings and cleaning up after the weekend guests have gone. One particular Sunday, I arrived at the Lodge to find a guest tentatively picking through a very full and very messy trash barrel. This is never a good sign.

“May I help you with something? Maybe a tarp to help spread things out?”

“No – I just lost some medicine, but it’s not essential that I find it.”

But I could tell that the loss was bothering her, and a few minutes later she asked for the tarp. We dumped the trash and, much to her joy, found the medicine.

Her young son had been watching the whole process. As I was cleaning up the mess, the woman came back and whispered, “My son wanted to thank you. You’ll find something on the seat of your golf cart.”

The 25¢ that I found there is one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever received. I keep it by my desk with Jesus’ words to his disciples when he washed their feet:

You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.   John 13. 13-15, NRSV

 The origin of ‘hospitality’ is fascinating: it comes from the Latin word hospes, which means both “host” and “guest”! In the Laurelville context, this origin makes perfect sense. It is part of our mission to extend “Christ-like hospitality with welcome and safety for all.” We look for the image of God in each of our guests, remembering that Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25. 35) Once we are able to recognize that image – the face of Jesus in the stranger – then ministry proceeds naturally. It becomes difficult to tell who is the host and who is the guest.

Indeed, sometimes the host shows up as a five-year-old boy.

How have you experienced the paradoxical nature of hospitality in your life?