The Hospitality of Ananias

George Shuba is best remembered for a simple act of welcome that he extended to his teammate Jackie Robinson. He shook Robinson’s hand after a home run, which the third base coach and the two runners who scored ahead of Robinson had not done. The obituary notes, “The handshake was seen as a gesture of acceptance, perhaps the first time on a professional baseball diamond that white and black teammates joined hands in solidarity.” From our perspective in 2014, it may seem to be a minor gesture, but it was a profound gesture of hospitality. In her book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Christine D. Pohl writes, “When we offer hospitality to strangers, we welcome them into a place to which we are somehow connected–a space that has meaning and value to us. In hospitality, the stranger is welcomed into a safe, personal, and comfortable place, a place of respect and acceptance and friendship. Even if only briefly, the stranger is included in a life giving and life sustaining network of relations. Such welcome involves active listening and a mutual sharing of life and life stories.” Sunday’s scripture is Acts 9: 10-19, which tells us of Saul’s welcome into the Christian Church after his conversion experience. God had to step in and do some one on one persuasion with Ananias to convince him to extend hospitality to Saul. Ananias welcomes Saul, and the rest is history.

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