“Don’t Talk to Strangers”: Hostility or Hospitality?

Laura VanDyke Thoughts for the Week

Every year during the flurry of Halloween preparations, it strikes me how unusual this event is. For one night of the year, people open their homes to strangers, cheerfully welcoming them with candy and a type of hospitality that is almost extinct in today’s world. Children, who have had the maxim “don’t talk to strangers” drilled into them by well-intentioned parents are given opportunity, for this one special night of the year, to transcend suspicion of adult-strangers and simply accept the hospitality that is offered them.

It makes me a bit sad to think that the doors are so quickly shut, and remain so until Halloween comes again the next year. Though the need we feel to tell our children to avoid strangers is understandable, it is lamentable too, because when we offer hospitality to each other, it is an image, however tenuous, of the hospitality that God offers us – in Jesus Christ we are offered not just food to eat, or a place to stay, but a Person in whom we find salvation. As Jesus invites,

“Come unto me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

(Matthew 11:28).

Laura VanDyke