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.
Yet hospitality is more than being warm and friendly to others as you choose. It is a transforming way of life that opens the heart of the disciple to not only see Christ in the other but propels her to make room, make ready, and be available for those in need. Ultimately, this daily practice of Jesus that transformed and opened the hearts of his disciples will change our hearts and actions to being available to meet the needs of the other. The process of changing the heart occurs with each encounter and every act of hospitality.
This message is excerpted from the 2009 Women of the ELCA resource “Hospitality: More than warm and friendly” by Valora K. Starr.
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