I bought a pineapple. I didn't have it on my grocery list - but when I walked in the door of the Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle, there it was. Right in front of me. It looked so welcoming and inviting that I put it in my cart.
Now, do I know how to properly cut a whole pineapple? Nope. But I am sure a can find an instructional YouTube video to help me out.
I think perhaps the reason I grabbed the pineapple is that I learned a while ago that in many parts of the world a pineapple is a sign of welcome.
In southern states or at places along the eastern seaboard you might see a pineapple carved into the entry of a home; or maybe brass door knockers in the shape of a pineapple attached to their doors. My husband's family lives in South Carolina and we've traveled through the state quite a bit. Pineapples are common decor inside and outside of homes.
Long ago, before there were airplanes, pineapple, which grew in tropical climates, was not available to most people in the world. Explorers returning from a voyage sometimes brought pineapple to their king and sailors fastened a pineapple to their gate post when they returned from sea. As a result of these customs, the pineapple became a sign of welcome.
Here are some pictures - maybe you've seen some, too.
One other random thought? Spongebob Squarepants LIVES in a pineapple under the sea. I wonder if that's not just a silly cartoon idea but an intentional symbol of welcome?
This week's scripture passage from Matthew is just two verses (40-42) from the 10th chapter (NRSV)
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
It's a pretty easy formula. Welcome others = Welcoming God.
When we welcome others, when we make others feel comfortable and love, we are sharing the love of God. And we are welcoming God.
There are many kinds of welcomes and we have many ways of welcoming others. Now, while we are in the middle of a pandemic welcoming others is kind of complicated. But even just a wave, a smile, or a sign in your window could make others feel welcome and loved.
Maybe you can even give someone a pineapple!