Friday, April 13, 2018

Hospitality Questions

The theme of this year's Create in Me retreat was Holy Hospitality.  The retreat focuses on a different aspect of the Trinity each year; this year was the Jesus year. We looked at all the ways Jesus provided hospitality, and it will probably come as no surprise that many of those ways involved food.  The second day of our Bible study looked at that last chapter of John, where Jesus calls from the shore and tells the unsuccessfully fishing disciples to try again, to cast their nets on the right side of the boat.  Then they have grilled fish and bread for breakfast on the beach.

During that Bible study, we had a smidge of quiet time to reflect on this question:  "What do we love that gets in the way of loving others with agape love?"  It doesn't seem like a profound question, but when I started writing, it only took  me 3 sentences to get to a crying point.

Here's what I wrote as an answer:  "my control freak self.  The one who wants assurance that I'm on the right path, the path where I won't make mistakes.  The Kristin who needs financial security.  The Kristin who is afraid that no one really loves her or that she'll be abandoned or left all alone, the only one on a porch of rocking chairs."

As I write this, I see that I took the question in a slightly different direction.  What I love that keeps me from offering true hospitality and love is the feeling that I have when things are going well, when I can predict the outcome.  What keeps me from offering/creating that love and hospitality is my fear that no one really likes me.  And then there's that fear of the death of love that I can't seem to shake these days.  In my younger years, I feared the death of love that comes when the beloved decides to love another.  These days, it's literal death that I fear--not the death itself, but the being left behind.

We talked about all sorts of hospitality, the kind we offer one-on-one, the kind that we create as institutions.  I was less interested in the question of how our churches can be more welcoming to the stranger, and more interested in how we can create deeper communities with those already there.

Both of those questions are important.  And in many ways, they are rooted in the question that made me cry--what's going on inside us that gets in the way of hospitality?

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