Eugene Peterson writes, “The table is the focal point of hospitality in all cultures. Many of the stories of Jesus are in conversation at meals.”
We see Jesus in table conversation in our readings of Mark’s gospel.
A good exercise might be to ask ourselves two questions.
First, “When did we last share a table with our neighbors?”
Second, “When did we last share a table with notorious sinners?”
Remember, Jesus said, “Follow me.”
Help me to be a hospitable place for those who are suffering,
so that they may be able to lay down their burdens
and find rest for their weary souls.
Enlarge my heart so there will be room for their frustration,
their confusion, their anger.
Help me to show hospitality to the stranger with unbearable pain,
knowing that some, in doing sao, have entertained angels.
Help me to make room in my heart for my own suffering,
a stable for my confusion,
a manger for my tears,
and swaddling cloths for the heavenly gift
that labors to be born there.
from The North Face of God by Ken Gire, p. 31
“Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way. The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.”
–Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out
This video should resonate with all who were involved in the Hospitality Ministry Team meeting last night. I’m not big on “marketing” the church, but this was thought-provoking, to be sure. Thanks to my friend Alan for sharing this with me!
What if Starbucks marketed like the church?!?
While visiting my favorite “truckstop for the soul” I came across a quote I wanted to share without comment.
“They were wonderful people, the Cashes. The last time I saw Johnny we were at my house on my ranch in California. He and June were down. I was playing some songs for him for his new record he was working on with Rick Rubin. We had dinner. Before we started, June had us all hold hands and she said grace. Since then, whenever we have guests in the house we all hold hands and say grace.”
–Neil Young in The Tennessean