7 Jul

July Pastor’s Pen

On my recent trip to Italy with my nephew, a regional train carried us to a small city an hour west of Florence. We had a 10 am tee time on a beautiful Tuscan golf course we were eager to make. Upon arrival at the train station, we were greeted by a concrete platform and no public transportation to the golf club 30 minutes away. Apparently, there was one local taxi with two phone numbers because when I called each number, the same guy replied with the same curt message in broken English – “no time for you!”

With the help of my Google Translate app, I asked the older men gathered for coffee in a nearby cafe for help. They directed us to an information booth, where an accommodating woman, after five phone calls, finally located a driver to pick us up in 40 minutes. About an hour late, we finally teed off.

After a beautiful nine-holes, we took our prebooked taxi back to the train station to return to Florence. A few moments later, the digital screen showed that our train was canceled. With no station or officials to help, I again used Google Translate to ask another waiting passenger how to return to Florence. In broken English, he said, “Stay with us. We go Firenze.” (Firenze is the Italian name for Florence.)

We sat on that platform with these four kind, professional Italian men and women, exchanging smiles and few words. When the next train arrived, they motioned us to board. After a short ride on the train, they nodded for us to exit with them at the next station. As we quickly raced to make the connecting train to Firenze, they kept an eye on us to ensure we were with them. As we boarded the final train, one of the men kindly said, “Next stop Firenze.” After an abundance of “Grazies!” from me, we continued our own journeys home.

I thank God for the hospitality and kindness of those we encountered in Castelfiorentino. It made me think of the hospitality we are commanded to offer others, inviting people to follow and stay with us as they navigate new journeys. As Christ-followers, sometimes we offer hospitality, and sometimes we receive hospitality. Both are evidence of the Spirit at work in and through us, and both are necessary for God’s transformative work in our world.

Pastor Mel

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