As I reflect on the fellows retreat, the concept of hospitality consistently comes to mind.
The retreat began on an off-note because of the massive snowstorm, resulting in us being unable to go to the intended retreat center in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. At that moment, the hospitality theme began. We were quickly welcomed into the home of Common Grounds for the entire afternoon and evening to cook, watch movies, and discuss what it means to live life together. The next day, we were warmly welcomed into Karen’s home to have our own Church service and break bread together. It truly was an incredibly tangible experience of hospitality at its finest on the most literal level.
On each of those days, we unpacked the idea of loving our neighbors and the way that might look in each one of our lives. We asked questions: What does it mean to live a life of love if we are working at a consulting firm? Can we possibly be doing God’s work if we aren’t in explicit ministry capacities? Can you make money and still love God? How do we choose our jobs based on the community as opposed to the job description? Is that something everyone should do? To what degree should we enter discomfort in our lives after college? What is the value of confession to other believers? What does it mean for us that God really meant it when He said, “It is finished” on the Cross? What does it even look like to love your neighbors?
I would like to focus on the final one, loving our neighbors. What a foreign concept in this “look out for number one” culture! But, if I did not know before what loving our neighbors looked like, I really saw it in action in the way each fellow listened to the other articulate his or her thoughts on vocation and calling, and the ultimate call to love everyone as Christ loves us. I really saw it in each person in describing his or her authentic, passionate, relentless desire to seek God’s Will and live a life of love. For some, it looks like entering college ministry. For others, it looks like being a dentist. And others, the corporate world. The list obviously goes on, but the common thread was absolutely clear; each person, in response to his or her call, aims to bring reconciliation across the divisive boundaries created by the world today.
This reconciliation will take many forms, but the point is each of us adamantly seeks redemptive relationships while here on earth so as to see the diversity of this world no longer seen as divisive, but rather unifying, the way Christ intended it to be in the beginning. Some of us will take to the streets to protest racial inequality, others will faithfully tend to their patients day in and day out, others will produce literature that forces our society to think about who and whose we are, others will work to create systemic change in our government to prevent human rights abuses, and still more will create music to remind us that beauty exists in the midst of brokenness. In all of these things, we see people being reconciled to each other and ultimately to their Creator as we realize redemption is real, and we are invited to participate in it.
Jewel Crosswell is a fourth year majoring in Global Development Studies and Religious Studies. She is the co-editor of a weekly newsletter and participates in a local anti-trafficking initiative called the Charlottesville Justice Initiative. This past summer, she interned at International Justice Mission, an international human right agency dedicated to protecting the poor from violence. She loves to travel, run, hike, read, and spend time with friends