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.
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…