Every Student Has A Story

University of Haifa International School Student Blog

On hospitality…

Yesterday, my friend and I decided to finally check out a local Episcopal church in Haifa, which was about 40 minutes away by bus from the University. It took us a few wrong turns, and checking in random places, but we finally found the church when we noticed a priest walking into the chapel. At first, when we arrived, we were the only two people in the sanctuary so we were a little worried this was not the correct location, but the priest and the organist greeted us warmly right away. After we took our seats, the priest came over with the English translations of the readings for that day and also the Order of the Liturgy, because it was an Arabic congregation, and he explained the service very thoroughly so we knew what to expect. IMG_0967IMG_0969 As more people started shuffling in, just about everyone in the congregation (25 or so) came up and greeted us, asking us questions about where we were form and what we were doing in Haifa. You could tell they all loved having visitors and were genuinely interested in our stories. As the service started with the opening hymn, I just stood and listened to the beauty of the music and admired this quaint church. The service was interesting in and of itself because it was a harmonious blend of Arabic and English;  half of the prayers were in Arabic, the other in English, we said the congregational responses collectively in both languages, and then all of the hymns were in Arabic. The organist even translated the sermon for us as it was given, so that we too could hear the priest’s wonderful message of loving thy neighbor, and putting our faith in God even through our hardest trials. IMG_0972 Near the end of the service, the priest actually had us introduce ourselves to everyone, and adamantly invited us to have coffee and treats with them afterwards. During the coffee hour where we filled up on delicious coffee, harissa, and cookies, the priest once again welcomed and thanked us for joining them that morning, and what he said to us next was truly heartwarming: he said that we were always welcome, that we could consider this our church home while in Haifa and they would help us with anything we needed. We had only spent an hour and a half with these strangers practically, yet they had opened their doors and arms to us, and made us feel as comfortable and at home as possible. Yesterday was such an excellent example of how to show genuine hospitality towards others, and it got me to truly think about what I think hospitality should look and feel like, and how I will show others this same kindness. Even though I couldn’t understand the service fully due to the language barrier, I knew that this church was living out God’s commandment to love thy neighbor to the fullest. It was one of the loveliest things to see, that around the world and in all types of communities, God’s love continues to be shared and extends to the edges of the Earth. By: Dana Rademacher

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This entry was posted on November 4, 2014 by in Student's Stories and tagged , , , , , .

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