Because I grew up in the South, I have long been familiar with the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality. If you travel through the cities in the south, you will see that the pineapple adorns statues, gates, door knockers, wallpaper, bedposts and on and on.
In early colonization, the pineapple became a delicacy because of its rarity and delicious juice. Europeans had never encountered such a fruit so when it was served to guests, they felt particularly welcomed and honored. As time went by, the pineapple was used in other ways, as well. For example, in the deep south, if a pineapple was found on your porch in the morning, it indicated that your neighbor wanted to sit in the swing with you and visit. Additionally, when sailors would come home, a pineapple would be speared and placed in front of the sailor’s home as a sign that there would be friendship, warmth and a welcome home party for the sailor.
Today, the pineapple is the international symbol for hospitality. In my native Alabama, pineapple upside down cake is a delicacy and if you serve it in your home, you are communicating to guests that they are warmly and enthusiastically welcomed. It symbolizes that the host desires for you to feel warmth, friendship and comfort while in their home.
Every week, we have guests in our church home. We believe ourselves to be welcoming and always inclusive but it never hurts, from time to time, to check and see how many pineapple upside down cakes there are when visitors enter our doors!? Are you one of the pineapple upside down cakes? Is our welcome warm, comforting and enthusiastic? Will our guests leave and understand why we say that our church is a place where Everyone Belongs? I pray that our welcome can become like a pineapple . . . a delicacy of sweetness and warmth.