As our church moves ahead on a ConnectCafe ministry, I’m pondering what it means to offer hospitality. It’s more than offering coffee and internet access, I’m sure of that.
Our culture has reduced the concept of hospitality to having really nice cookware. Then we can all pretend we’re food critics. I am very tired of this. Hospitality is a lot more costly than buying cookware. (And besides, I have noticed that people with nice cookware never seem to ask me over for dinner.)
Our church culture has lost it’s way here, too, I fear. Hospitality is not just having decent coffee, although that helps. And nice buildings and comfy furniture help too. But it goes deeper, doesn’t it? True hospitality is about an attitude of the heart that accommodates things we would rather not accommodate, just because they’re important to someone else. And I don’t mean just muddy boots, although they make a fine metaphor. True hospitality means having space in the heart to welcome the stranger. It’s costly, plus it’s at least a little bit dangerous. Dangerous because it threatens preconceived notions.
Just for fun, here’s a list of places/experiences that have made me ponder hospitality in the past 2 weeks:
~ we’re remodeling a kitchen so it is nice for parties, etc.
~ we’ve had a house full of strangers during said remodeling
~ I spent four days at the Holy Cross Abbey enjoying the silent hospitality of monks (and left my muddy boots behind!)
~ my church’s building is changing as we remodel the fellowship hall to make ready our ConnectCafe
~ our Session moved its meeting place last night to accommodate a Relay for Life meeting in our fellowship hall
~ a visitor came to our early service with a small child and we had to scramble to accommodate them, but everyone did so with happy hearts
~ would they have done so if the parent of said child had been a gay couple?
~ we decided not to fill the sanctuary with lillies this Easter because people with allergies are always miserable on that day
the list could go on . . .