Generously Sharing God’s Abundance with ALL
In the midst of all the violence and corruption of the world God invites us today to create new places of belonging, places of sharing, of peace and kindness, places where no-one needs to defend her or himself, places where each one is loved and accepted with one’s own fragility, abilities, and disabilities. A vision for churches is to actually become places of belonging, places of real life sharing.
Like the church community in the days after Pentecost in Jerusalem, there shouldn’t be a needy one among us. Hospitality is true attentiveness to needs – hurts – hopes – even before those things are spoken aloud.
Christian Hospitality…..for the Israelites and early Christians….understanding themselves as aliens and sojourners was a reminder of their full dependence upon God. Compassion for the other is always part of the story.
You did it to me!
If consideration for the aliens in the land is part of the story that made Israel’s hospitality unique, what made the hospitality of the early Christian community was was that it went out of its way to serve in hospitality to those who could not reciprocate. Luke 14:10-14
For us as Our Savior’s – God already decided for us what Radical Hospitality looks like in worship and thus spilling forth into every other area of life. The Gifts of God are FREE. This one statement – that comes from the Jesus of the cross and the empty tomb – opens up the doors that were previously closed – it calls us to hold the doors open for others – to do whatever it takes to bring people to that kind of table – to kneel side by side in vulnerability where the playing field has now been leveled – there is no longer rich or poor or slave or free or male or female or suburbanite and urbanite or republican or democrat – there is no club – there are no limit – it is grace for all and it is the model for what Christ hospitality is to be in our churches and homes and school and workplaces and entire world.
The world is God’s and everything in it….We live by divine hospitality….and yet we are given the opportunity – even the command – to offer hospitality to God by caring for the people who are the most vulnerable.
Mother Teresa said….I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one is leprous and this one gangrene and this one with a dark and divided soul; I must wash and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.
St. Benedict said in his Rule for monks that all guests to the monastery must be received like Christ.
The Patriarch of Alexandria upended traditional notions of power by calling the poor and beggars his masters and helpers. He even gave a double portion of alms to a man whom he knew to be a false beggar, saying, “perchance it is my Christ and He is making a trial of me.”
Hospitality was so important to the early church that it was a test of Character (I Timothy 5:10) and a requirement for leadership (I Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:8).
The words translated as hospitality or hospitable in the New Testament are often variations on the Greek philoxenia…which literally means love the stranger. When we hear hospitality today we think of the industry….hotels, lodging, food, etc. – which by the way is the world’s fastest growing industry – earning upwards of 3.4 trillion annually. It’s also the largest private employer in the US.
Hospitality is not arms length. Even as the host is blessing the guest…the guest is blessing the host. The relationship is paramount. Hospitality isn’t a transaction …. It is seeing in the other the image of God….connecting to that person….and giving them the space, the invitation, the security they need to reveal their authentic self. And…that means you too are vulnerable enough to reveal your authentic self.
The meal….a shared meal…here or out there….it’s intimate….it connects…it opens us to God’s possibilities for real and rich and deeply meaningful connected life.
The best hospitality provides safe space for the guest and host to reveal their most precious gifts of bring new life to each other. Which means we give up predictability and control. We accept people wholly as they are. We embrace one another. In the spaces that God has given us….our church…our homes…you name it….because God is there….we are there…with those God has given us.
And so….Christ like hospitality is 24/7/365….in the long slow pull and intersection of relationships…….Are we good at loving people???? Are we offering our lives as living sacrifices with and for one another? Are we trying to hard to manufacture relationships, disciples, people into a human doing of our desires or….will we enrich the soil for all of creation to live in dynamic soul-filled connectedness?
May you live blessed as you give yourselves here in this place to relationships, service, and generosity.