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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At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

I think we have become so isolated by our busy culture. The sense of opening your doors to neighbors, sitting on the front porch, canning together, helping each other with a house project has all been replaced with a sense of "don't break into my personal space/down time."

I am as guilty as another. I read once about someone who started thursday night soup night on her street. She made a big pot of soup, invited the whole street to come every Thursday night and bring bread or drinks. It became the highlight of many of the neighbors week. they didn't stay long, just had dinner. What a cool idea.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Jen and Paul said...

I like thinking about this a lot Mary. Paul and I have been challenged to have people over for dinner more often, and the hope is for it not to be a stressful thing for us. Meaning, to move away from that feeling of making it a big production and worry if my toilet is clean enough. Honestly, it should be about the conversation and moment, not a place of impressing with my fake house and fancy meal.

I think another reason we all retreat into our homes at the end of the work day and be in isolation from our neightbors is we don't have permission to be ourselves. If I am tired, stressed and a little cranky I feel that if I am in a social setting I need to put on my smiley face. Many of us only have these partial relationships and only a handful really know us. We can let it all hang out with those friends, but with all these other partial realtionships they take more than they give...that is exhausting. I have been very challenged this last year to drop my expectations and put myself out there to hopefully create more community and know and be known by many more people. I look forward to reading more. ~Jen

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Mary said...

i want a front porch. and i want a stone soup night, too. man, how can i start making steps toward that now??

jen, i hear you on all you said. one of the most recent things i read said, "the future of hospitality will require some creative reconceptualization of our relation to the economic sphere and to daily work. To provide significant household-based hospitality, someone has to be home." i think about that a lot when the way i want to live is not supported by the way i choose to live today. this whole concept will require for me, like pohl said, "some creative reconceptualization."


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