Revd Sara’s Reflections on Hospitality As part of our Church life and community we are often given the opportunity to welcome friends and family who would not usually be part of our weekly gatherings. The pastoral services, Holy Baptism, Weddings and Funerals are an example. Our events. community cafes, Vaccination centres, children’s groups, lettings all enable our contact with others. Reflect on the centrality of hospitality in daily life. Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” When has this been your experience? In pairs or small groups talk about the time when you were hospitable to a stranger, or when a stranger gave you hospitality, and were in the company of angels “without knowing it”. What did you learn in this experience?
A table is a symbol of hospitality in a world of migration. We all look for tables, places, people and resources of rest and refreshment as we journey. The Christian faith is rooted in the practice of hospitality with a table as a central image The table, and the food shared here is a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet that God prepares for all people. God is the Host at the Heavenly Banquet where all are welcome, all have a seat, no one is excluded, and each guest is personally served, and treated equally with respect and dignity. At this table no one is ignored, or passed by without acknowledgement, no one has to reach out or beg to be noticed. All receive equally.
Hospitality reveals the heart of God. Hospitality transcends borders and cultural divides. Hospitality is the frame of reference for interpreting the ministry of Christ. Jesus said to his followers, “whenever you meet in my name have some food and remember me”. Holy Communion at its best reveals the new world we are called to build. God’s people are called to reflect God’s grace and generosity, to adopt an attitude of hospitality and spread the table, and symbolise the feast of God.
Hospitality is the basis for building human community. The very meaning of compassion is to share bread with others. One story Jesus used to illustrate hospitality is known as the parable of the Good Samaritan. Here it is a complete stranger in a hostile environment who shows the hospitality that reflects true faith with Jesus’ instruction to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 25-37).
We give leadership when we, individually and communally, reflect the spirit of Jesus in service and hospitality. In the story of Jesus and the two disciples sharing conversation and food on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus is the stranger, the host and the guest. That is us as well. We are all strangers, guests and hosts. In this story it is the stranger who offers hospitality and in whom Christ is revealed. True hospitality is never a one-way process. It is mutual. We all give and receive. We all serve and are served, all of us enriched in the process.
May we continue to offer hospitality and welcome to all love and prayers Revd Sara