The theology of the pineapple

8 July 2012

In 1493, Christopher Columbus was one a bit of a jaunt around the world And as one part of that, he ended up on an island we now call Guadaloupe It’s in the Caribbean, between Antigua and Dominica.

When he was there, they came across a new fruit (well berries actually) that was weird looking, and very sweet.

The indigenous people of the area – the Carib – considered it a very special fruit And in fact you knew if you were going to be welcome in a Carib village if they had planted a pineapple plant at the village entrance

These exquisite fruit were taken back to Europe, and to England and to Nth America But it was extremely difficult to cultivate them in the colder climes They were seen as very special.    Special enough for Spain’s King Charles to pose with one in an official portrait And they ended up being very expensive

When captains returned from sea voyages, they would bring back pineapples and impale one on their porch railings,  to let people know they were back home and ready to entertain visitors with stories of their trips to the strange countries across the world    Carrying the tradition on, in early northern American settlement,  a fresh pineapple set in the centre of the dining table was the demonstration of the highest level of welcome and hospitality.

It even got to the stage that people would rent a pineapple for a visitor –  not to be eaten, but to be on display as a sign that the visitor was very welcome

In some places, wood carvings were made into the bedhead or the bed posts and that bed would be given to visitors for the night – even if it was the main bed.

In some parts of the US and Europe, even now,  there will be a carving or some embroidery, or a model of a pineapple near the front door of homes as a sign which indicates that visitors will be welcome in this house.

What is the size of the pineapple at your door? Is there a metaphorical pineapple on your table?

Jesus send out his disciples with a big task ahead of them into places they may or may not know people And they are going to have to survive on the welcome and hospitality of strangers.

Sometimes – often – we would look at this passage and place ourselves in the position of those who are traveling lightly on the pilgrim road of ministry And thinking about what we are carrying,  what is our excess baggage and are we relying on others, or would we really like to be self sufficient We did that in the 945 service today    But for every hospitality-ee there must be a hospitality-er For every visitor traveling lightly, there must be a host with a pineapple

Last Wednesday we had one of the great Kippax experiences here. Beattie Hatfield is part of a really important ministry here – simple English classes We are the hosts for a small group of women trying to develop some extra skills for life

And in a conversation a week or so ago, as conversation got to ‘food’ Hosts and guests swapped around

This week, Chinese and Syrian joined forces to provide us with  corn soup and savoury dumplings. What is the size of the pineapple at your door? Is there a metaphorical pineapple on your table?

Can I encourage you to develop your theology of the pineapple Because in offering simple acts of welcome, and value and sharing yourself you make it possible for people to live out who they are called to be by God.

You may not know that the people you are welcoming are on a mission from God They may not even know that they are on a mission from God But your pineapple welcome might make just the difference that they need

And then, by the wonderful quirk of fate we call grace you might find yourself on a mission from God.


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