Gameday Hospitality

24 Oct

We’ve started doing something through our college ministry (Westminster Presby Fellowship) this year.   It was a pretty crazy idea.  Just this simple thing – hand out some hospitality on Game Days.  It happened by accident.  No, really, it began as a healthy response.   Last year, when our community was rocked by “The Scandal,” we didn’t know what to do.  None of us knew how to react, how to respond.  But, a bunch of folks in our church had this sense that they wanted to do something, even if it was little and simple.  So they handed out coffee, cocoa and cookies on the game day right after the world first heard about Jerry Sandusky’s sexual molestation of boys on the PSU campus.  It was an offering of love and generosity at a time when we were all feeling uncertain.  The folks who smiled at our neighbors and the fans who walked by that day, giving them a hot drink and an encouraging word were uplifted.   They offered, and they received.

Our college fellowship thought it was the niftiest thing, and some of them decided to take it on again this year.  For afternoon games, we’re setting up tables in front of the church and the students are handing out hot dogs & lemonade or cocoa & cookies (depending on the game time).   Did I mention that our church is located a block from campus, right downtown.  It’s a busy street on game days.

Our fellowship is just tickled by the success of their Game Day Hospitality.  Success?  We really haven’t measured it, nor would we really know how.  We’re not asking for any money/donations nor are we handing out any information to encourage the recipients to do or be part of anything.  We’re just handing out hospitality.  How would you measure the success of that?

Maybe our faith has something to offer here.  Ordinary Christianity has emphasized that we should love God. This makes sense, but do we really know how to do it?   It’s really just so simple – love God.  And, you probably spend an amazing amount of time (if you’re like me) figuring out how to get that message across to the students you work with.

What we’re finding with our Game Day is that loving God doesn’t require much.   Even students who have a very scripted, full schedule can do it, even on Game Day (and many of them go to the game after this).  It does require some time and attention.  It requires showing up and offering oneself in hospitality, meeting people where they are.   In being there, making the offering, the students are opened to receiving God’s love themselves.

The mystics tell us over and over again about how God has loved us!  Their writings are full of this truth – that God is forever the initiator, God is the doer, God is the graceful one offering no matter who we are or what we’ve done. It’s all about God’s initiative!  Because of this, the mystics try desperately to give back, to offer their lives back to the world and thus back to God.

It’s really amazing how we have come to know God’s love in this outreach.    We have sensed God’s love.  And we want to give back.  We’re doing it because we want to share God’s love and grace.  And, then in the doing, we experience great joy.  We’re just full of smiles and tell everyone who asks about Game Day, “it’s just so cool.”   We can’t really describe it.  But somehow we sense the Spirit of God in this time, in our offering.  Which is probably why words allude us.    And, is definitely why it’s just way cool.  Success!

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Diana is the Advisor for Westminster Presbyterian Fellowship on the Penn State Campus, working with the State College Presbyterian Church where she also works (plays) with middle-schoolers.  She enjoys walking, reading, family & friends, and considering how to live life well/more sustainably (including growing lots of her own foods and caring for egg-laying chickens Patty, Dumpling, Little and Nugget).

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