Friday, March 07, 2008
Wilkommen... Bienvenue... Welcome!
Petra is about to step on stage (well, about 11 hours from now) in her first major role in a high school production of Cabaret. Mazel Tov my beloved girl! I'm so excited for her.
Her role is a hard one... Fraulein Schneider, the owner of the rooming house in which Sally Bowles lives. She begins a relationships with one of her tenants, Herr Schultz, only to realize that he is Jewish, and that she is not prepared for the complications that brings, as Nazism rises all around them in late '20's Berlin. Petra has worked hard, dug down deep, and is ready to dazzle one and all with "Married" and "So What" and that perennial favorite, "The Pineapple Song."
Early in my marriage my ex and I were living in Boston, in an apartment the size of my thumb on Beacon Hill. We thought that was romantic and so la vie Boheme. One day when rummaging around a shop on Charles Street for a wedding gift, we found a set of glasses with pineapples etched on them. The shop owner explained that the pineapple is a traditional symbol of hospitality. Pineapples mean "Welcome." Charmed, we bought the glasses for our friends, who later reciprocated with a cutting board in the shape of a pineapple. I still use it for really good bread, primarily my own homemade.
I've been doing a Lenten series on "Practices of Faith." This week our focus was on hospitality. I played a clip from "Ugly Betty", a scene from the first season in which Betty's distinctly unglamorous family hosts a very hung-over Daniel, Betty's very rich and very heartbroken boss. Hospitality, said one of our readings, offers us the opportunity for welcoming people who can teach us something we never knew before. When we welcome the stranger, we welcome new tales, new perspectives, and we are all the richer for it. In the case of the stranger in the video clip, he too was immensely enriched by being bathed for a day in a loving family's home, different as it was from what he knew.
We discussed questions such as, Who is really welcome in our church? Do we welcome some for a visit, but not to stay? What can our guests teach us?
My prayer for my church is that we learn how to welcome, truly welcome the stranger. Who knows? We may entertain angels without even knowing it.