On hospitality

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Ron Woodward reflects on the welcome he and others experienced in Kotzebue, Alaska. “I especially remember the times that our crew took coffee breaks and accepted the hospitality of George and Maggie Melton in their tent out behind our work site. During those times George and Maggie served us coffee and homemade bread with jam.”

Ron’s text this morning comes from 1 Peter 4 in which we are reminded that “love covers a multitude of sins” and that for this reason, we should “be hospitable to one another without complaining.” Ron remembers that George and Maggie “were always kind and generous with our crew, and in spite of very limited means they gave of what they had.” George was a native pastor. Each winter, “after freeze-up – George and Maggie would pack up their tent in Kotzebue and return to one of the Eskimo villages.”

The Fruit of the Vine quarterly devotional reader has been helping to bring together Friends since 1961. That first collection of meditations was written by T. Eugene Coffin, Arthur O. Roberts, and J. Emel Swanson; and they suggested that “these ‘seed thoughts’ are put to best use ... for family devotions or for personal, supplemental reading – depends upon circumstances.” Back in 1961, each day had an assigned Scripture reading and a short introduction to that day’s Bible passage. Prayers were “not included, for we hope that as the Holy Spirit gains entrance into your hearts through the unfolding of Scripture you will discover both the need and words of prayer.” 

Nearly sixty years have passed, and we’re still producing a new issue of Fruit of the Vine four times a year. Each day offers a reflection – usually some personal experience – on a short passage from Scripture. Each day also now includes a song and a simple, one- or two-sentence prayer. I’m convinced that this little devotional reader is one of the ways – one day after another – that God has been teaching us to encourage, challenge, and inspire one another. And I suspect that another sixty years from now, we’ll still have much to learn.

Eric Muhr