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Monday, July 17, 2017

Life at Oxford beyond the pubs

Oxford is a charming jewel in the crown of England.  I sat in a pub where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to talk with each other about Hobbits and Narnia and the Christian faith.  Saw where Carroll first dreamt up Alice and her wonderland and where Hook first used the microscope.  And of course all of this within a city of medieval spires and colleges some of which go back nearly a 1000 years.  And of course I'm taking my meals at the grand hall of Hogwarts and just today say the whoomping tree from the Harry Party movies at the Blenheim palace a few miles down the road here in Oxfordshire.

But the real find has been the  hospitality of the people.  Today we struck up a conversation with a very nice couple that gave us some good tips for travel and suggestions for London.  We meet them in the park, we said hello....and get this, they said hello back!  Then we made some kind of comment and they actually listened and took the time to engage us in a little conversation.  Here's the thing, I think they were truly interested in our well being and welfare.   We are visitors--our accent gives us away--and they as hosts had I think a sense of responsibility to make us feel welcome.

The same thing happened in O'Neil's pub as a manager came over to see where we were from and wanted to make sure we were getting along OK.  And at church, get this, as we were standing with a cup of coffee two complete strangers came up to us and wanted to know how we were doing.  And we had a very nice conversation about politics (Yes and it was civil) and about the fact that the gentlemen had been a visiting professor at Berkeley in the 60s when the army reserve was called upon to suppress the students.  He got caught up in the crowd and says he still has a jacket that smells of 'tear gas."   Now this 80+ year old just laughed about his time in America. 

Tonight we played croquet on the lawn here at Christ Church with 6 strangers and had a marvelous time learning a little bit about each other and enjoying each other's company.   My point.  Hospitality and fellowship are so important.   Especially in the church how can we be more hospitable to each other? To the stranger?  To the un or little known fellow member.   What would it look like to have a church family that specialized in hospitality?   Would  it help us spread the Gospel?  Make the world a better place?   Attract others to join us?  We need to rediscover just how important this virtue is.  I know it's making all the difference here.

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