Hospitality: a radical act of justice

  • July 20, 2016

2d23db0e-a285-4549-98c6-ee196b9821fa-thumbnailI’ve been worrying about our world this week.  The violence, the fear and the hatred grate against the softness of God’s love in my heart.  I wonder what Christian practices we might employ to make a difference in the world.

Henri Nouwen wrote this:  Hospitality means primarily the creation of 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.

There are so many reasons NOT to welcome people in.  The spare bedroom is full of boxes of papers in need of sorting and filing.  The schedule does not permit a free evening, and when it does, we don’t have time to clean the house.  We don’t know how to welcome someone because, well… we’ve not recently been welcomed as the stranger in town.  We are almost too comfortable in our own homes and in our own lives.

In La Romana in the Dominican Republic, I was hot and tired after a long day of construction work.  We stopped in a village on the way back to the church and I walked down a solitary dusty path.  A woman sitting outside a shack she called home, offered me a seat on a rickety old chair as she perched on the dirt floor.  Language barriers divided us except for smiles and nods and gestures.  She, who had so little, gave me the best seat in her house so I might rest a moment.  Receiving this simple gracious act of justice and love, I was inspired to become more hospitable in my community.

The practice of hospitality represents a simple but radical act of justice.  Find a way to offer hospitality this week.  Welcome an exchange student into your home.  Buy coffee for a colleague whose political views differ from yours.  Look for opportunities to befriend people from other cultures or religions and encourage your children and grandchildren to extend hospitality in your home to their friends.  These simple acts can change the world by adding welcoming love.

Rev. Cindy Maybeck