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September 30, 2018: Hospitality as Service, Part 2

by Father Jadon


"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." - Hebrews 13:2

For the last several weeks I have been repeating the phrase “hospitality as service, ” and this Sunday our Adult Forum—our best opportunity as a parish to reflect together on matters of communal importance—is focused on the theological exploration of what that might mean practically, and vice versa. I hope you are beginning to ponder over that phrase “hospitality as service” and what it might mean for us individually and as a church family.

The word hospitality comes from the Latin hospitalitem, “friendliness to guests,” which derives from hospes, the Latin word that amazingly encompasses the seemingly disparate identities of host, guest, visitor, stranger, foreigner, and even enemy (this is where terms like “hostile” derive). The english words hotel, hospice, and hospital are all related to hospes, because intrinsic to those places is an offering of friendliness from a host to a guest. You may have heard that the church is a “hospital for sinners.” It is in the sense of hospitalitem that this phrase is meant, rather than the curative or fixative sense that our modern use of the word hospital most represents. A church is meant to be a community defined by friendliness to visitors, strangers, foreigners, and even those we might think of as against us, in some sense.

Since I arrived here to serve with you almost two years ago, hospitality has often been held up as one of the primary charisms of All Souls.  I have heard many of you tell stories of the warm welcome that you received, often at coffee hour, when you first visited All Souls as a visitor or guest. The hospitality offered here has made many feel instantly at home.  But I have also heard many of you say that All Souls can feel, at times, like a private club. I think that can mean different things to different people, not all which are fundamentally bad, but I think what this does say is that our hospitality can be offered somewhat unevenly, with some finding warmth and others a cold shoulder. Now I am the first to admit that I am not a perfect offerer of hospitality myself. Sometimes my attention is focused in one direction, which leaves my back to another.  At other times I am simply tired, and I crave the effortless, predictable company of friends. Which is why hospitality cannot be the purview or mission of any few people.  We must all intentionally be hosts. And if hospitality is one of our primary charisms—an extraordinary power given by the Spirit for the good of the church—then we might approach differently, and more intentionally, our efforts to organize, offer, and prioritize hospitality . . . as a way to serve not ourselves but our God . . . and anyone God sends us to serve. Jadon+

Join us this Sunday at 10 a.m. for an Adult Forum on the topic of “Hospitality as Service.”

Last Published: September 27, 2018 1:06 PM
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