Hospitality can measure our nation’s greatness

Rev. Steve Nagler

EVANS MILLS — In the midst of our chaotic and often volatile political world, both on the home front and abroad, I sense there is a great need like we’ve never previously known for the gift of hospitality.

Think about that word for a moment. How does one define hospitality? A dictionary may define it as “creating a friendly and generous atmosphere toward others.”

Consider the moments in your life when you received another’s act of hospitality. Did not that experience leave a positive impact on your life?

Let’s now apply that word to the political and economic scene in our nation today. One of the critical issues our country is dealing with is the refugee or immigration crisis.

Is our nation handling that crisis correctly? Or, perhaps, the question can be posed this way: Is it handling this crisis in a loving and caring manner?

While reflecting on that question, I thought about the words of Emma Lazarus, a Jewish woman (whose descendants were some of the first Jewish settlers in America), taken from a sonnet or poem she had written which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These words can be found on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

I believe these words mirrored the thinking of our founding fathers, and this concept led to the creation of our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. In my mind, these words speak of extended hospitality.

A political rally cry has been “Make America Great Again.” This slogan should cause us to reflect on defining greatness.

A nation’s greatness should be measured not simply in terms of military, economic and political power or influence. Rather, it should be measured in a nation’s measure of hospitality extended to others. Hospitality reveals the heart of a person as well as a nation.

Let me share some words from the Scriptures, in particular, from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus is offering a definition of greatness to his disciples to help them gain new perspective:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave …” (Matthew 20:26-27)

What if hospitality centers were established in every state of our United States where the atmosphere of welcome was established? For most of the thousands of refugees who have flooded over the borders of Texas and California are seeking to “breathe free.”

What if an abundance of necessary supplies and resources to meet critical needs were available at each hospitality center? This is possible, and other security matters could still be handled.

Having said this, always be ready to offer hospitality when the opportunity rises to those in need whom you may encounter. That action will reveal where your heart lies!

Finally, let me leave you with two additional Scripture references to consider:

“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Peter 4:9-10)

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)

The Rev. Steve Nagler of Evans Mills is a chaplain at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. An ordained minister with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, he previously served as a chaplain in U.S. Army from 1985 to 2005.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(3) comments

Holmes -- the real one

Rev. Steve Nagler ---

There is a reason that young people are less and less likely to become religiously affiliated.

There is a reason that adults increasingly refer to so-called "Evangelical Christians" as "a joke."

That reason is hypocrisy.

Daily we encounter people who claim to be "Christians" and who insist that they adhere to the teachings of Jesus and the directives in the Bible.

It only takes a moment to notice that they certainly don't practice what they preach. For these folks, hospitality and loving behavior is reserved for people they know and like.


This is the beacon that they are "shining" for the world to see.

And the world is watching.


Simply follow the money. It's all about money. LIRS and all other 'refugee resettlement' agencies' are mostly funded by the government. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service does not meet the Standards for Charity Accountability. It's more about the dollars than 'hospitality'....

Holmes -- the real one

"Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you." Matt. 5:42

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy" Proverbs 31:8-9

"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17

"Then Jesus said to his host . . . When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:14

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.