Monday, October 15, 2007

be hospitable...

I was reading an article this morning that was quite challenging. The article focused on the practice of showing hospitality --- not just "entertaining". Check out a quote from it below and tell me what you think.

In earlier issues of the Missional Journal I have discussed the need for us to speak the good news and embody it. In a culture of alienation, hospitality becomes a powerful means of incarnating the truth that God in Christ has welcomed us. Christine Pohl, in what is arguably the best book on the topic, writes: “In hospitality, the stranger is welcomed into a safe, personal, and comfortable place, a place of respect and acceptance and friendship. Even if only briefly, the stranger is included in a life-giving and life-sustaining network of relations. Such welcome involves attentive listening and a mutual sharing of lives and life stories. It requires an openness of heart, a willingness to make one’s life visible to others, and a generosity of time and resources” (Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition [Eerdmans, 1999], p. 13).

Particularly important for modeling the gospel is hospitality directed to those living on the margins—the poor, the handicapped, the infirm, the immigrant. Jesus actually warns against throwing parties for friends, family, or rich neighbors. Such hospitality may have more the character of commercial exchange than of gift. Instead he counsels inviting those who cannot themselves repay. In this, he says, “you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

I will be the first to admit that such hospitality is a challenge to western Christians. Most of us have little contact with people on the margins. We are often too concerned with our own safety and security to provide a safe place for others.

The busyness of life also diverts most of us from effective missional engagement. The practice of hospitality is quickly experienced as an intrusion: “It requires one to stop a busy, demanding routine for a period of time and focus attention on the stranger for the sake of the stranger. . . . It is an act that forces us to confront how our lives are driven by agenda and by demands that push away any relational encounter with another” (Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk, The Missional Leader [Jossey-Bass, 2006], p. 157).

The Missional Congregation: Practicing Hospitality

by David Dunbar