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Don't Let Covid Kill Hospitality.

Do you remember when businesses used to welcome you with their signage and smiling receptionists and invite you to sit in cozy waiting rooms or partake of a cup of coffee? Those were the days... Now, the signage on the door reminds you to cover your face or to wait in your car until someone calls your phone to say that you can come in, sanitize your hands and have your temperature taken before being given permission to stay. They don't want you to sit, but if you must, you can only sit in chair #1 so that they can scrub off any remnant of you that might remain once you are gone. It seems the days of "Come as you are" have been replaced with "Come if you must...and please try not to leave any evidence that you've been here."

This is the new world we are living in. People are afraid of other people. I know what it is like to be afraid - many of you know that I struggled with anxiety and fear for many years. And it's true that I used to be a self-proclaimed germaphobe but what I meant by that is that I didn't like to share water bottles or let my kids eat off of hotel floors. These days people are really taking germaphobia to a whole new level and I just refuse to get on board. I refuse to be afraid of people's bare faces.

*For the record, I do realize that some people are in unique, high-risk situations that require more caution. My point here is that those of us who do not fall into that category should resist the fear of sharing air with other germy humans.*

Hospitality has been a dying art for the last few decades but I'm concerned that Covid has provided a convenient excuse for us to give up on it altogether. We didn't really want to go to the trouble of cooking for our neighbors anyway, and now we can postpone that invite indefinitely and feel fairly noble about it. Extended families who have spent holidays together for years are suddenly hosting individual celebrations. Folks who never missed a Sunday in church now feel it is too dangerous to gather. Everything is getting weird.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying to stay healthy, but as I said in my last Covid article, "Taking care of our physical health is good. Taking care of it at all costs is idolatry."

With that in mind, I want to give a little encouragement to my fellow Christians: resist fear and keep opening your door and your arms and your life to the people around you. We don't need to barge into other people's bubbles, but we can keep extending an invitation into ours. In a world that is increasingly divided by masks and plexiglass and screens and fear, Christ-followers have an opportunity to show radical, Jesus-love by saying, "Welcome. Come as you are."

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18


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