Have you seen the television ad about the boy who learns sign language so he can share his sandwich with a classmate? His name is Joey. The ad opens with Joey lying on his bed, looking at his phone, wearing headphones, and positioning his fingers as if he is learning sign language.
In the next scene Joey is in a swing, looking at his phone, wearing headphones, and again, positioning his fingers as if he is learning sign language. In the third scene, Joey is signing in a mirror while he is brushing his teeth. The scene cuts to his father making a sandwich for Joey’s lunch.
Then we see Joey on a bus, looking at his phone, wearing headphones, and practicing sign language. He arrives at school, walks down the hall, looking at his phone, wearing his headphones, practicing his sign language. In this scene he is so engrossed in learning and practicing sign language, he does not hear his teacher say, “Hey, Joey,” as he walks down the hall.
The Final Scene
The final scene is in the lunchroom. Joey enters the room with his lunch. He spots a girl carrying her lunch tray. As she sits at a table by herself, Joey walks up to her, with his sandwich, and signs out the words, “Hi. My name is Joey. Do you want to share my sandwich?”
And she signs in response, “I’d like that.” Joey sits down with her, offers her half his sandwich, and they eat lunch together.
The caption at that point in the ad is “Good feeds our connections. Good feeds us all.”
When I saw that commercial for the first time, I could not believe it was a lunch meat commercial. I thought it was an ad for a church.
The makers of the ad say,
“…choosing good isn’t always about grand gestures; sometimes it’s as simple as sharing a sandwich or doing the right thing by making better decisions when the path might be confusing and out of reach…choosing to be more imaginative, generous, kind, or loving, there can never be too much good in the world.”
Oh, one more bit of information. The title of the commercial is “Connections.”
Now, I don’t want to make more of this than it is, but I want to share with you what this ad has stirred up in me. I experienced God’s loving presence in and through this story.
I experienced God’s love through Joey offering hospitality to someone who was marginalized by her disability. Joey exemplified hospitality at its best.
- Joey decided he wanted to connect with the girl in the lunchroom.
- He learned what was needed to make the connection. Because she had a hearing disability, he needed to learn sign language so he could talk with her in her language.
- He focused on making the connection. Joey not only identified what needed to be done (sign language), he took the time to learned and to practice the sign language.
- Joey made his connection by sharing part of himself to meet her need. He not only learned the sign language but he developed a relationship with the girl by sitting with her, offering part of his sandwich, and making the connection.
…all in a 30-second commercial.
Sharing God’s Love Through Hospitality
Have you considered showing God’s love through offering hospitality? Consider the following:
- “Welcome one another just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Roman 15:7). What would happen if you welcome one another as God in Christ has welcomed us?
- “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). God came to be with us in a way we could understand. God relates to us to help us relate to God and to one another. What could happen if we engaged with our community or neighborhood in a way that takes the people seriously?
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16). Love is the motivation for the connection. Do you and your congregation love the people in the community so much that you are willing to give yourselves?
Will you consider Joey’s pattern in sharing God’s love with your community and neighborhood? Consider the following:
- Do you and your church want to connect with the community or neighborhood where you are located? Just saying you want to connect does not make the connection.
- What is needed to make the connection? What do you need to learn about the community or the people with whom you want to connect?
- We can and should pray. “O God, send us the people no one else wants and help us receive the people you send to us.”
- We can and should engage people in conversation. Take a walk through the community and ask the people you meet these three questions:
1) “What do you love about our community/neighborhood?”
2) “What are the needs in our community?”
3) “Would you be willing to help us meet any of those needs?”
- Are you willing to make your connection a priority? Are you willing to learn what you need to learn and to practice what you have learned to make the connection?
It’s time to develop relationships to make connections with others.
Hospitality as a Response to God’s Grace
The foundation of hospitality is found in responding to God’s grace in your life. As individuals, we become hospitable when we receive God’s acceptance from others. As a community of faith, we become hospitable when we live in an authentic relationship with one another.
So, who in your community would benefit from God’s love? Are you willing to learn to connect with them? What part of yourself are you willing to give to love as you have been loved?
Your answer reveals your hospitality!