The Good News of Hospitality

I have been lost in “Christianese” for far too long. It wasn’t until it was broken down for me in another language that it all finally sank in.

The hospitality I am referring to is not the Martha Stewart, crisp white carpets and perfectly decorated cookies with matching table toppers. I have come to know hospitality as a posture of welcomed embrace of all. It is free of all expectations and presuppositions. Hospitality wholly embraces the other– no matter what. It is creating a space for another to be who they are at that moment. Author and Benedictine monk, Father Homan describes hospitality as a way of acknowledging the divine in another:

“Hospitality makes room even for the one who is frightenly different–the dragon, you might say. Hospitality treats people respectfully, as if they were sacred, because they are. Even the other, the stranger, the one who is nothing at all like me. He brings the Divine to me, too.”

This is what the story of God is all about–hospitality. We are welcomed and embraced right now. With no expectations of something different. Just as we are. Everything. All of us. It’s not about what we can do. It’s just about what He is offering.

The Bible talks of a time, a time desired by Him, that calls forth this very life of hospitality:

6And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
         And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
         And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
         And a little boy will lead them. 
    7Also the cow and the bear will graze,
         Their young will lie down together,
         And the lion will eat straw like the ox. 
    8The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
         And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. 
    9They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
         For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
         As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

There is a time when a cobra is to be a cobra… venemous teeth and all, slithering upon the ground… and to be nothing but that, while next to a infant child. And the two are different, neither one calling the other to be anything other than what they are. And the two live in harmony. This hospitality, this harmony, is the knowledge of the LORD as declared in Isaiah. This is the kingdom of heaven.

Theologian Elizabeth Newman describes the kingdom of heaven as one of excess and superfluidity: one of abundance without restraint. Such is displayed in the many miracles of Jesus (multiplying bread to feed the five thousand). Jesus claims that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, present. Newman puts two and two together, claiming that, “Christians are therefore called to live ‘as if’ the kingdom of God, a reign marked by excess and superfluidity, is now present, because it is now present, though not in its fullness.”

May we live in the freedom of unceasing acceptance and embrace, and from that, be moved to extend such to others. May we live in excess and superfluidity of love, grace, forgiveness, and hope.

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2 thoughts on “The Good News of Hospitality

  1. word up elli. recently been thinking about this too. recently i guess i never thought of hospitality something that daunting and dare i say scary that we open our own selves to the point of risking that snake bite. its a lot harder of a practice than a lot of us let on to. thanks for the reminder.

  2. Ellie,
    This is the best definition of hospitality I have ever heard! I LOVE it!!! I am reprocessing the entire concept because of your well-chosen words.
    Thanks for putting this down for others to ponder!
    Much love,
    Laurie

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