ERROL CASTENS: Helping hands and true hospitality

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

The latest Coffee Clutchers’ convocation down at Arthur’s started with a new twist when Bud settled up everybody’s tab.
“Just a little hospitality,” he said.
That reminded him and several of the other Coffee Clutchers about Bro. Earl’s (no relation) recent Sunday School class on biblical hospitality, and they started talking all at once about it.
Odell interrupted their chatter.
“Hospitality’s more of a woman thing, isn’t it?” he asked. “What am I’m supposed to do – serve tea and crumpets to all my old hairy-legged friends?”
Pete frowned at Odell’s sarcasm and shook his head.
“Hospitality is different from entertaining,” he said. “Entertaining is often about you and your house and your stuff. It usually has an element of seeking something – social acceptance or business contacts, for instance – in return.”
Bud took a swig of dark roast and added, “Hospitality is about meeting needs of other folks.”
“What kind of needs?” Odell asked.
Bud noted hospitality could mean keeping spare casseroles in the freezer to enable an impromptu lunch invitation to a visiting family at church, or taking a fatherless boy to a ball game, or giving an afternoon to chauffeur a non-driving neighbor on errands and visits.
“Or it can be a really big deal, like last year, when Rob and Emily turned their cabin over to Henry’s cousin and her two kids to get away from her abusive husband,” Pete injected. “That was literally a lifesaver.”
Clyde said all those examples and the parable of the Good Samaritan showed a little forethought can make a big difference.
“The Good Samaritan was prepared for a bit of emergency when he found the traveler who’d been robbed and beaten,” he said. “He poured oil on the man’s wounds and bandaged them. The Good Samaritan put him up with the innkeeper. He obviously sacrificed his time and convenience and even risked his own safety.”
Ken cemented the lesson when he mentioned having stopped on a roadside to add his assistance after seeing Clyde putting out a car fire just last week.
“He’s not kidding about being prepared,” Ken said. “Clyde had the fire extinguisher, but he also had tools, bottled water, snacks, a first-aid kit and some safety vests.
“I bet he offered that young couple some cash to help with the towing and repairs, too,” he added.
Clyde was blushing.
Odell was nodding.
“And he made the decision to stop and help, even though it might be inconvenient or even dangerous,” Odell said.
We all took a while to sip and let that sink in.
Odell finally broke the silence.
“I reckon biblical hospitality really is more than cucumber sandwiches and party favors,” he said.
ERROL CASTENS is the Daily Journal’s Oxford-area reporter. Contact him at

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