*Alternate* Second Reading: By Shauna Niequist

Something miraculous happens when we gather. There’s a connection, a healing, a nourishing that goes beyond the nutrients and calories and vitamins and minerals. There’s a nourishing of spirit, and if we’ve learned anything at all through the pandemic, it’s that we really need that connection, all of us. We need to see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices. We need to laugh together and cry together and sit in silence together. We were made for connection, for sitting shoulder to shoulder, for carrying one another, walking together.

We’ve all experienced that phenomenon of getting used to people who are different than we are—at first, all you see are the differences and you sometimes trip over yourself trying to make sense of languages or accents or traditions that feel unfamiliar, but then over time, what was once foreign starts to feel very normal, like just another part of your world.

But the opposite is also true—and a season of prolonged isolation has not brought out the best in our culture. The political and religious and cultural differences became louder and more divisive. One antidote is hospitality, which requires bravery, intention, and willingness to extend beyond ourselves in service of others. Being a Christian means devoting ourselves increasingly to the purposes of God on earth, to bringing the kindom of heaven

We need each other and have so much to learn from one another. Hospitality is the antidote to isolation, and we need it. And each one of us can be a part of it.

The words of Shauna Niequist

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