January 23, 2023

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:8-10

So many stories have emerged recently from the deadly snowstorm that covered Buffalo, NY. The December blizzard brought deadly cold temperatures and over 40” of snow in just under 24 hours. The freezing winds reached speeds over 70 mph. The heavy snow and wind combined to create conditions that kept anyone from being able to see and navigate. The blizzard conditions trapped people away from home, stranded travelers in dangerous conditions and sadly, cost the lives of 27 people. It was the deadliest winter storm in Buffalo since 1950.

As the storm was starting to unleash its fury on upper New York, a group of tourists from South Korea were traveling through the area. They had been to visit Niagara Falls. As they were driving through Buffalo, their bus got stuck in the snow. Two of the Korean tourists walked to the closest house, with the hope to borrow a shovel. They knocked on the door of Alex Campagna’s home. Alex knew this was one of the worst storms he had ever seen. He also knew that they might get their bus free, but it would only be for a moment.

Alex invited the tourists into his home and out of the storm. For the next two days, all 10 guests slept on couches, air mattresses, and chairs. Alex and his wife, Andrea, opened their home to complete strangers. They fed them and cared for them. Their guests made special Korean dishes to share with their host. They shared stories and food.  In just two days, they had all become wonderful friends.

It is a rare thing to open our doors to strangers, but Alex and Andrea knew lives were at stake. Their hospitality did far more than save lives. Their willingness to provide safety for the stranded strangers opened the possibility for new relationships and joy. As a people of faith, we are called to live a life of gracious hospitality. To open our church, our calendars, ourselves to strangers. When we do, we will find opportunity to create relationships, find joy in others, and new occasions to share God’s love with others. The stranger among us is a gift. Let us continue to work to be the people who will extend a welcoming hand and a loving word. You never know the blessing your hospitality will be.

– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship