This drawing from 1673 by Adriaen van Ostade presents a cheerful scene. People are making music, bowling, walking the dog, drinking, sharing a meal, having a chat. Standing in the doorway is the proprietress. She must be an industrious person for over the door are two bee skeps, higher up a dovecote, and by her feet, hens.
A pub can be a welcome place for a traveller needing a break, a relaxed place to meet friends, to share passions – darts or skittles, watch sport, book clubs – or a place to go if you are feeling alone and in need of company. It can be a place to find a phone, a toilet or to ask the way when lost. Some pubs double up as post offices, libraries and become the centre of their community. Maybe the challenge for the church is to be as open in its reach to the community as the local pub.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24,25
Traditionally at the age of 21, or latterly 18, one received the key to the (your parents’) front door as a sign of independence. But you probably felt you gained your real independence when you had the key to your own room or home. It might have been at a hall of residence, a room in a flat-share or even your own place. The space beyond the door was yours to shape to your taste, a place where you chose what to do, when to eat, when to sleep – a place where you had control over your own life. That control can be something to value. People who are homeless or in a hostel, in hospital or ill at home, those who are infirm or elderly, may feel the lack of privacy and self determination that comes with independent living.
Whatever space we have to call our own, we can make it a place of love, warmth and welcome.
By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.