The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to God’s Word, so the beginning of love for the brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them. [People] forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.
From Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Aha” Moments of Hospitality
by Stephanie Fritz
Luke 19:5-7 and Luke 10:25-27
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
This past week I attended the annual event of the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators. Around 700 educators, pastors, youth workers and volunteers gather each year in different locations around the country and around a timely theme. This year in Louisville, Kentucky we looked at the theme of Boundless Hospitality. We struggled with hospitality beyond the act of welcoming people into our homes and churches. How did Jesus really see hospitality? How do we know? Here are a few of my “aha” moments throughout the week from our various teachers and preachers.
How do we really use language to welcome people into our church?
What if the message of the church of Jesus Christ was ‘welcome home’? The reality I hope we speak into being is welcome home, come on in, we have been waiting for you for so long. Our language doesn’t just describe our reality, it creates it. — Rodger Nishioka speaking on the Language of Welcome.
What if Jesus was actually calling us to something more than welcoming others into our homes and places of worship?
Hospitality isn’t having a host and a guest. It is about creating a new family. All this time we’ve been inviting people to leave their homes and come to church and all the while Jesus’ instructions were just the opposite. He showed hospitality by going into people’s homes. Jesus was doing something so radical, disruptive and uncivilized because he was going into the home of someone who was hated in the community to say, I see you and I love you. When you have people over to your house, you have all the power. When you go to someone else’s house, you have NO POWER. Jesus empty’s himself of power to show hospitality — Rev. Sandra Vanopstal
Jesus also tells us to reach out beyond who we are comfortable with. We have to teach this in our churches if we are to be followers of Christ.
In the Good Samaritan text our neighbor is redefined as anyone you come into contact with. Jesus changes and transitions the whole understanding of neighbor. I am convinced that Christian education is important because we have deficit issues with regard to who is and how to love our neighbors. We need subversive Christian education to teach us what it is to love our neighbor again. — J Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA)
Sandra Vanopstal tells us that true hospitality is being yourself and inviting others to do the same. How are you practicing hospitality in this way? Be present this week with others that you encounter. Redefine who your neighbor is.
(from Alison Harrington and Teresa Waggener)
We are migrants on a journey of faith
Our souls are blistered and calloused from life’s rocky path
Like our ancestor Abraham we are strangers in a strange land
So let us journey with those who walk for we are all limping towards a world of compassion and justice.
Let us journey with those who walk and God will surely walk with us.
Come, the road is long but we shall strengthen each other
And God will guide us home.