Day 1 - Radical Hospitality
Hospitality is the practice of welcoming the stranger. Henri Nouwen, who lived a life marked by radical hospitality, once defined it as “the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change may take place.”
The adjective ‘radical’, which means ‘far-reaching or thorough’, is a reminder that the hospitality we offer is one which goes above and beyond the ordinary. It is the kind of love for the stranger which goes the extra mile and doesn’t count the cost.
In Matthew 25, Jesus urges his followers to show radical hospitality and care for others by visiting the sick and those in prison, by feeding the hungry and giving protection to the vulnerable. He goes on to say:
Just as you did it to one of the least of these,
who are members of my family, you did it to me.
(Matthew 25 v40)
Think for a moment about some of the people we meet in the course of each week. Consider some of the visitors who come in to our churches. Think about those who come to us with particular needs or concerns. Think about the strangers, whose needs we ignore or overlook simply because they are strangers.
Now imagine that each one of them is actually Jesus. How would we want to welcome and serve Him? How far would our hospitality extend if we took the words of Jesus seriously, and saw our care for the stranger as care for Jesus himself?
On day one Schnase offers us the following prayer and challenge:
Gracious God, give me a heart that remembers the strangers who may be in my path today. Help me share your all-encompassing love with them, just as you have shown love to me.
Challenge: If there are particular persons who helped you feel welcomed into your congregation, express your thanks to them personally or with a note. If that is no longer possible, give thanks for them by name to God.