Opening Question: When were you particularly impacted by someone’s hospitality? What happened and made it so impactful?
I had decided to take the train from London, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was part of my holiday plans to finally see the east coast…and Prince Edward Island, in particular, the home of my beloved Anne of Green Gables. (Yes, I know she’s not real…).
While on the train, I had a lunch seating in the diner car. Being alone, and with limited seating, another woman came to join me. We soon got to talking and I found out she was heading home to Lunenburg, NS, one of the locations I had planned to visit. Since this was before AirBnb and easy internet reservations, I asked her if she could recommend a place for me to stay. “Well, not really”, she explained, as any guests that came to visit would stay with her and her husband.
In fact, she wondered if I would like to stay with her, as she and her husband had an old farmhouse with a guest room. She quickly assured me I could meet her husband at the train station before making up my mind. And I, in turn, called my boyfriend (who is now my husband!) to ask him what he thought. He had been to the east coast and assured me that hospitality like this was not unusual. And so, I ended up staying with them.
They invited me for supper, offered me their cozy guest room and even gave me breakfast before I went on my way the next day. The conversation I had with my new acquaintance was itself a treat…but that’s a story for another time.
Our God is the source of all hospitality – including this woman and her husband. God, as an act of his hospitality, created the world and gave it to us as our home to steward so that it would be increasing hospitality for the flourishing of all creation.
One of my favourite stories of hospitality is that of Abraham and Sarah with the three guests. At first glance, it seems to be a story of Abraham’s hospitality, in keeping with Ancient Near Eastern culture. Yet, it was truly God’s hospitality in sharing the meal with Abraham to remind him of the covenant and the promised son to come.
And of course, most obviously, we have celebrated God’s most radical act of hospitality with the birth of his son. Again, this may seem initially backwards. Wasn’t Jesus dependent on the hospitality of those around him – as an infant, then a child, and finally as an itinerant Rabbi traveling his country?
But let us not forget the purpose of Christ’s birth, which is ultimately to bring home to us. One day, he will welcome us to the banquet feast of his family, you and me, when we will finally be home and be fully at home.
Willemina Zwart is an ordained pastor in the CRC living in Port Dover, Ontario, with her husband, Kelly Sibthorpe and their puppy, Pearl. She is the missional pastor of the SoCo (South Coast) Beach Project, a four-month spring/summer discipleship and faith formation experience for young adults as they live in intentional Christian community while working summer jobs. She also works part-time as a Resonate Local Missional Leader.
Is your congregation experiencing
Liminal Space right now?