The Methodist Way of Life - Commitment 6: We will practice hospitality and generosity
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 10 June 2022
Before moving to the Derby Circuit, I was stationed in the London District. One of the three Chairs of that District was Revd Dr Jongikaya Zihle, who had grown up in South Africa. He tells this story …
“A young man had been held in a detention centre, where he had been kept cold and naked for fourteen days. He was suddenly released far from home, without any clothes. It was dusk as he ran from his captors towards the smoke-filled and dusty township nearby. A middle-aged woman ran out of her dilapidated shack dwelling to cover him with a blanket. As it grew darker, and he continued to run in the direction of home, a kind man offered him a t-shirt and a pair of short grey trousers.
Still clutching the musty blanket, he was stopped by another fatherly figure who offered him food and shelter for the night (in a two-roomed dwelling with his wife and six children). In the morning, on his way to a delivery job, this stranger offered to take him home, a twenty-three mile diversion from his work route. All these people were unknown to the prisoner but all were aware of how things were under the oppressive system in Apartheid South Africa, and anyone seeing someone in the young man’s situation would respond unquestioningly in offering generous care.
This is my own story. The care and compassion, generosity and selflessness that I experienced at this difficult time contributed to making me the person that I am today. Without the willingness of these people to share of themselves, and to be hospitable to a stranger, I don’t know where my life’s journey would have taken me. Hospitality and generosity produced a burning heart, willing to heed the call to ‘do all the good I can, by all the means I can and in all the ways I can’ in a world in need of God’s love. That has been, and continues to be, the defining marker for a Methodist Christian to this day!”
As we look around us today, at the rising food and fuel prices, at the ever increasing numbers of people experiencing loneliness or mental health issues and the rising tide of refugees reaching our shores, it is good for us as individuals and as a church to consider how we can be more hospitable and more generous. Even a small act of generosity or hospitality on our part, may transform someone’s life, just as it did for Revd Jongi.
As I read Revd Jongi’s story, I am reminded of the words of St Teresa of Avila, who said,
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Song: Beauty for brokenness
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Open my eyes that they may see the deepest needs of people;
Move my hands that they may feed the hungry;
Touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;
Teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;
Let me share my possessions with those who have nothing;
And give me the care that strengthens the sick.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen