We are blessed to live in this part of God’s creation called the North Shore. We get to enjoy the beauty of Lake Superior, the North Woods and the many lakes and rivers of the Boundary Waters. And we are reminded how blessed we are by the folks who come to this area for their vacations and weekend get-a-ways. Since mid-May we have experienced the steady flow of thousands of cars as people come to this area to find their time of rest and relaxation.
We call it tourist season and we find ourselves, some directly, others indirectly, given the opportunity to provide hospitality to these strangers among us. For some it is the source of their livelihood and for others it is experienced as a time of inconvenience and a burden. And yet we have all had experiences of being on the other end of this relationship as we have been tourists who have traveled to other places.
Years ago I won a trip to Acapulco, Mexico. As my wife and I enjoyed the trip, it was honestly not a destination either of us would have sought out. The local tour company was located in the lobby of our hotel and it consisted of a man who had a 1972 dodge station wagon as the tour vehicle. We hired him to take us on the day tour of the city as well as the night tour of the city and we saw all the sights including the famous cliff divers (on both of the tours). We had driven past several churches during those tours and so I inquired in the tour office if it were possible to take a tour of the churches in the city. He agreed and we met him in the lobby at the appointed time the next morning.
As we drove throughout the city of Acapulco, he stopped at a variety of churches along the way. Some large cathedral types and other, small literal hole-in-the-wall churches in a neighborhood. Towards the middle of the afternoon, we headed out of town on the road towards Mexico City. A few miles out of town he pulled over to the side of the road where there were two small cinder block houses. “This is where I live,” he said. And he invited us into his home. He sent his son out to get us some cold drinks because he didn’t want us to drink his well water. He told us stories of his life there, he even brought out the family photo album sharing with us the pictures of his daughter’s wedding. This experience of his hospitality made the whole trip for me! I was so moved by his warmth and generosity.
As I see these thousands of tourists who come to and through our community, I am reminded of the hospitality of our Mexican Tour Guide. And I recall God’s command from Exodus 10:17-19:
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of Lords, the great god, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt.”
Let us love the strangers among us. Let us offer them welcome and hospitality with generous hearts. And may we help make their journey filled with joyful memories!