Friday, March 23, 2007


This morning, I am reviewing my reading of Christine Pohl's book. What a beautiful and inspiring challenge ... but those kudos do not do her justice. I am determined not to brush this book off so quickly.

Bear with me, these entries will be short. I am compiling my thoughts elsewhere for the time being, but as I write, I find myself longing for someone else to journey with me here, to discuss, think, and help develop these ideas.

Pohl writes that the distinctively Christian contribution to the hospitality tradition is its emphasis on welcoming the vulnerable, the poor, and the needy. And who are the vulnerable? They are those strangers who are "disconnected from basic relationships that give persons a secure place in the world. The most vulnerable strangers are detached from family, community, church, work, and polity."

Who are those strangers in my neighborhood and community? Who are they in yours? And what might be required to help these people find a place? I'd love your thoughts and feedback.

I recently purchased the study guide which accompanies this book, and am grateful that it has helped me contemplate and consider my next steps. I admit that I love riding the high tide of passion, and believe it's my own immaturity that prevents me from actually incorporating the practices of jesus into my everyday life. I feel gripped lately, like I've been taken from my complacent, angst-ridden, big-talking, "this world isn't what i thought it would be" twenty-something lifestyle, and asked to confront the things in my own life that speak nothing of the God I claim to worship.

it's the irresistible revolution, it's making room, it's conversations with our worship pastors and co-workers, it's moving toward marriage and understanding that the decisions we make today will influence our decisions tomorrow. it's watching a church community grow and wondering how many will become disciples and how many will remain consumers. it's spending time with women older than me, listening to their stories and appreciating the wisdom that experience has granted them.

i'm thankful. and i'm compelled to put these ideas, these passions, and this study into practice.

in making room, the demand to consider hospitality as a skill, gift, spiritual obligation, and practice is clear. and there are so many opportunities to incorporate it!

in the 4th and early 5th centuries, John Chrysostom urged his parishioners to make a guest chamber in their own houses, a place set apart for Christ - a place within which to welcome "the maimed, the beggars, and the homeless."John Wesley and the 18th century Methodists recovered the practice of shared meals when they instituted love feasts. Love Feasts! Maybe you laugh at the idea of such a term, but to provide simple food, and to provide a context which allows a close union of widows, of the poor, of vulnerable strangers, and of those who are already connected to community - well, bring on the love feasts!

My study guide asks the question, "what makes hospitality in the home difficult or worrisome today? What makes it important?" I'll be answering that question this morning. And if you care about hospitality, I hope you'll consider it as well. I invite your thoughts.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

hospitality is resistance.

in what is turning out to be one of my new favorite books, making room: recovering hospitality as a christian tradition, christine pohl quotes from john calvin on hospitality:

we should not regard what a man is and what he deserves: but we should go higher - that it is God who has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together. he has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing one for the other. the man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should deface himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man, for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens ... if there come some Moor or barbarian, since he is a man, he brings a mirror in which we are able to contemplate that he is our brother and our neighbor: for we cannot abolish the order of nature which God has established as inviolable.