In the shadow of home makeover and gourmet cooking shows, we feel the pressure to be extra fabulous hosts. This commercial view of hospitality has seeped into our attitudes about hospitality and is shaping our actions. As disciples of Jesus Christ, too often we have limited the practice of hospitality to hosting fellowship hour, welcoming visitors to worship, and serving meals. What’s more, hospitality has usually been assigned to the women of the congregation.
When this practice becomes entrenched without thought or examining why and how, it erodes into a churchy form of social entertainment—we get caught up in a party-store mentality, where the host is busy coordinating the colors of the napkins and calling the caterer. In this sort of social entertaining, the focus is on the host. She prepares. She puts her best foot forward to make a good impression. Only when everything is just right do the perfect people come together for the perfect event. The host controls who comes, what is shared, and when. Among all the pressures on the host to arrange everything perfectly, the needs of the guests are least important.
Is this true hospitality?
Tomorrow: A new definition
Today observe the Fifth Sunday in Lent and we remember Jonathan Edwards, teacher, missionary to American Indians (1758). This message was adapted from the “Hospitality: More Than Warm and Friendly” resource written by Valora K. Starr and available from the Women of the ELCA website.