hospitality is mission

Jesus’ actions at the dinner table remind us that hospitality is mission and mission is hospitality.

Mission is essentially about relationships — inviting people into relationship with us and with God. Relationship is nowhere more tangibly demonstrated than at the table.

(Simon Holt, ‘A Cook’s Confessions’, Zadok Perspectives #62, 1998/1999)

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I have a new job!

I’m still loving working with the Christian Union at La Trobe 3 days/week. And now, to complement this, I’ve got the chance to help develop some resources leveraging hospitality for Christian mission and service. It’s really very exciting — and a timely challenge to put some of my reflections about becoming churches of irresistible influence directly into the service of Christian people faithfully striving to glorify God and love their communities.

A Mexican fiesta -- to share!

At the moment, I’m in the idea-generation phase. So I’m mainly brainstorming and reading widely. In particular, I’ve been dwelling on the what, why and how of Christian hospitality:

  • I’m exploring the possibility of adapting Miroslav Volf’s ‘phenomenology of embrace’ — in which he (perhaps whimsically) analyses a hug into four stages — to focus my thinking about what hospitality is.
  • In terms of the why of hospitality, Luke 14 and 15 is exerting a tremendous gravitational pull on my thinking (so much so, in fact, that I’m starting to entertain some slightly outrageous ideas about the window Jesus’ dinner-table behaviour and conversation opens up into his quite startling reworking of the Jewish understanding of God).
  • And I’m also trying to work out the best way to frame some ‘how to’ resources about hospitality when the people I’m pitching to probably have a lot more experience than I do in actually extending hospitality (but maybe just need a little bit of help directing it outwards towards mission and service).

So I’d love it if you could take a moment to comment and tell me what’s stimulated you in your wrestling with the what, why and how of Christian hospitality. For example, I know I need to rent and watch the movie Babette’s Feast

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2 comments

  1. Hi Chris
    A few random and probably obvious comments that have made a difference to the way I do hospitality:

    – hospitality is not entertaining
    – people will start to feel comfortable once they have a drink (of any kind – water, tea, etc). Even better when you know what they like to drink from the last time you saw them.
    – don’t wait until you’ve cleaned before you have visitors. People appreciate it when they see that you welcome them whatever your house looks like.

    1. Terrific! Thanks, Georgina. How counter-cultural — and difficult to implement — is your third point! At least for perfectionists like me and Natalie.

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