I enjoy history, I also enjoy the service of hospitality. How are these two related?
Well, the pineapple has served both as a fresh fruit food and a symbol of human history in the Americas. The fruit was a favorite among the fierce Carib Indians. In November of 1493, Christopher Columbus was on his second voyage to the Caribbean when he lowered anchor in a cove just off the luscious, volcanic island of Guadeloupe. It was there in the parrot-filled jungle that he and his crew met up with natives who had full pots of human body parts cooking when he discovered the fruit. The crew delighted, feasted, and took note on the new fruit.
Sometime after and an ocean away, the sweet juicy fruit took on a symbolic meaning. There in the colonies made of small, primitive townships, the home served as a hub of most community events and activity. Meeting and visiting was the primary entertainment. Hospitality quickly became the center of society’s daily life.
It was there in the homes that women could declare both her family’s status and her own personality. Each woman or hostess sought to outdo each other in the creation of their dining rooms. From the grandest table-scapes made up of pineapple topped food displays, to the use of the best china and flowers, dinners were both conversational and delights to the senses. With this in mind, the pineapple became the symbol of welcome, cheer, warmth, affection, and hospitality. Later, the southern states of the United States of America took the pineapple symbolism and expanded it. The pineapple would become engraved into wooded armors and other fine furnishings. The fruit became elegantly sculpted fountains in the center of cities, and it would be a gift given to welcome families and friends into the grand plantation homes.
With all this history and the combination of hospitality and friendship the pineapple is still a favorite among southern living. Now you may be asking what this has to do with hospitality when thinking of our church or why am I going on and on about a fruit?
First, I think if we were to take anything from this history of a fruit it would be that, like our neighbors in the south, it is a way to expand our warm reception of guests into our church. Not that we gift a pineapple but in the ways that it represents; a true, authentic form of warmness and heart.
In the past few weeks and as we are gearing up for Easter Sunday, the ministry team lead by our fearless leader, Rev. Dr. Nagel Monroe, has been hard at work preparing for guests and ways to connect with them; forming opportunities to get to know our children, youth, families, and all of St. Paul’s members.
Second, dating back to colonial times, how we set the mood and feeling of our foyer and worship space is especially important. Having an inviting area to welcome guests in and creating spaces that give to great conversations, is of most importance.
You may have noticed new things and places to sit and hold conversations are popping up in our foyer outside the sanctuary. What a fantastic way to give space for members and guests alike to sit and listen to one another, inspiring friendships.
Like the lessons learned from the Carib Indians to our Southern hostesses, I encourage each of us to go beyond the handshake on Sunday mornings and expand on how we, as a church, are being our authentic selves while welcoming our neighbors, friends, and guests to St. Paul’s.