23 December 2011

Community as an extension of hospitality

A few weeks before leaving on vacation, a Calvin Seminary graduate who I vaguely knew contacted me to see if I knew of a cheap place to stay in Amsterdam while he was visiting the VU University (Vrije Universiteit) about his Ph.D. It just so happened that the time of his visit corresponded to our being in Canada, so I wouldn't be here to help him out more with how things work in Amsterdam. However, since our apartment would then be empty, I could easily offer to let him stay there during his visit. I let others in my house and community know that he was coming and left with the sense that he'd be able to receive help from others in the community if he needed anything.

Much to my delight, my houseguest was warmly welcomed and helped by the community. They took care of a mix-up with a key and helped him get settled. Besides that, someone gave him a tour of the Christian Youth Hostel around the corner and invited him to join him for church. Another person (my favourite canal boat captain) took him along on a canal tour of Amsterdam. And I'm sure there were numerous conversations as well - full of genuine curiousity for the work and ministry that the other was doing.

Being able to extend more hospitality was one of the hopes that Matthijs and I had when we moved to Amsterdam. And it's been great to see that desire become a reality - I just hadn't quite expected that we'd even be able to extend hospitality when we were absent! It's a pretty great blessing to be part of a community where hospitality is such an obvious part of life that it'd be extended not only to others in the community, but even to each other's guests.

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