HOW well did you cope with the Queen’s Birthday long weekend here in Echuca Moama?
On one level it may seem like we experienced an unwelcome invasion with traffic on the roads chaotic and long delays at the Ogilvie/Northern Hwy roundabout and the Echuca-Moama bridge.
It was not as easy to get around town, and we may have missed the more sedate nature of this area.
Maybe you just stayed at home.
On top of this, we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic and we wonder how the influx of people from areas of greater prevalence of the virus may increase the likelihood of it erupting here.
And yet, on another level, we welcome the tourists. Tourists injects funds into the economy of this twin town. We thrive on the tourist dollar and this enables us to enjoy a better standard of living.
This past long weekend, accommodation venues were well booked, the supermarkets were extra-busy, and the liquor stores and petrol stations did a roaring trade.
How should we respond to tourists? Should we moan and groan about tourists because they disturb our peace and quiet, or should we welcome them with open arms?
We can be guided by an ancient collection of scriptures called The Bible. The Bible shows us that offering hospitality to the stranger reflects the nature of God.
We find the example of Abraham showing hospitality to the three divine messengers who bring news that Sarah will give birth to a son.
Years later, Boaz takes care of the destitute Moabite widow, Ruth, marries her and they become the great-grandparents of King David.
The Samaritan traveller shows hospitality to the wounded man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and pays for his lodging and recuperation.
On the first Easter Sunday, two disciples of Jesus on the Emmaus road invite a stranger to stay with them, and they are later blessed with recognising the stranger as the risen Lord Jesus.
Jesus, himself, welcomed those who did not belong socially or religiously to the community where they lived.
He healed the leper, the blind man, the sick and the mentally disturbed so they could re-join the society in which they lived.
Jesus welcomed women who had personal histories that put them on the edge of their society. These women later became members of the Christian family.
If we are to reflect the loving nature of our Lord God, we will follow in the footsteps of the godly characters before us, and particularly in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
We will welcome the stranger, welcome the tourist, even if this brings some discomfort to our regular lifestyle.
We should be generous and share the good things of Echuca-Moama with those who cannot live here more permanently.
And as we welcome those who come from out of town, we can be personally enriched by associating with them.
Let us always try to offer hospitality to friend and stranger alike. In doing so, our community will be a much richer place, not only financially, but also socially.
Michele Lees, Echuca Moama Uniting Church