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 Traditional Foods in the Gift of Healing 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,

for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2 

The gift of hospitality and the connection between hospitality and healing are scattered throughout the Scriptures.   January/February are months with many traditional holidays or religious traditions centered around food.

To name a few:

  • Eastern Calendar celebration of Christmas and their 12 meatless dishes served on Christmas Eve;
  • In Scotland, (possibly more so outside of Scotland) there is Robert Burns Day—a time for Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, with a good-sized piece of shortbread, along with oatcakes;
  • Chinese New Year: an opportunity to share in celebration with your local eatery;
  • In the Jewish Tradition: an opportunity to celebrate Purim—one can dress up in costume and enjoy a variety of traditional foods;
  • Come March: we all like to believe we have some Irish heritage.  

Sharing in the traditional foods of our heritage often provides an opportunity to entertain strangers with the gift of hospitality.  

Recently, I heard an interview (on my favorite CBC Radio Station) with a Director of Care from the Alaska Native Medical Centre (ANMC). The ANMC is unique in many ways. First, is the extensive jurisdiction it serves. They identify with over 100 different tribes/nations. This means they have a variety of cultures along with an extensive dietary need to provide for.

Quoting from their website, I am impressed with their gift of hospitality: ‘Remember how food used to be served in hospitals? Trays were brought to patients at set times – often not what they wanted, and served whether or not they were hungry.

Presenting: At Your Request Room Service Dining®, designed with you in mind. Order what you want, when you want it. If you are on a modified or restricted diet, our Room Service Operator will help you with your selection.’  

Included in their practices is the opportunity to have a family member, or friend, eat in the room with you. They are also permitted to bring food into the hospital. In addition, they accept donations of wild foods (berries, meat, fish, and other foods). The list is extensive.

As I listened, I thought about how the Church may take a page out of their book.

We are often totally caught up in, what we perceive as, what in our view has always been, “traditional” within our own parish or denomination.

Bishop Anna speaks of liminal time. Liminal time is an opportunity to step back and discern our next direction. One of those directions will be: review how we entertain strangers and exercise hospitality.  

Yes, there are strangers among us, waiting.

Blessings, Archdeacon Brian+