Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hospitality as Resistance, Part II

Chiayim in the Leaf Pile
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Ched Myers says that one of the reasons that Jesus was executed was because Jesus’ solidarity with marginalized communities (including women) and radical inclusion of them threatened the social architecture of the prevailing order. And some scholars believe that Jesus’ eating habits, his hospitality habits were the primary cause of his being handed over to the Romans for execution.

There is just something so very powerful about sharing a meal with, about extending hospitality to someone who is not like us, about creating space for the stranger. Walls fall down. Preconceived ideas are overturned. Blessings are bestowed, and not just from the host, but from the guest as well. Hospitality is resistance.

Maybe you can remember a meal or an act of hospitality that changed your life, and that in so doing is changing the fabric of this society. The Pharisees were correct in their concerns. Jesus was on a mission, and his mealtimes, more than anything else, illustrated what he was working to bring into being.

Peter Maurin, one of the founders, along with Dorothy Day, of the Catholic Worker Movement 70 years ago, said, “We need Houses of Hospitality to show what idealism looks like when it is practiced” (Pohl, Making Room).

People all over Louisville will be entertaining this Christmas. There will be breakfasts and dinners and parties and banquets galore, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, many or most of them will serve to further the status quo. People will invite people who they know, or who they want to know, people who are much like them, people who will someday return the favor, who will someday help to further their own place of privilege.

I am wondering what our Christmas plans look like so far. I’m wondering if we are planning any hospitality as resistance this year. Something a little out of our comfort zone, something with someone who cannot reciprocate, something that threatens our very carefully ordered way of life, that breaks boundaries that we’ve been brought up to keep. Hospitality as resistance.

So perhaps the questions that we can ask ourselves today, on this first Sunday of Advent, and this week, is this:

What are our habits of hospitality?

How are we going to create space for the stranger? How are we going to create space for the stranger here in our church? Now, Diane creates space five mornings a week from 7:00 to 10:00, etc. But what I mean is, not how do we do it corporately, but rather how do you do it? How do you create space for the stranger here at church?

And how are we going to create space for the stranger in our own homes this Advent season? When Abram and Sarai welcomed the three strangers, their household was less private. There was a whole community involved in their provision of hospitality. It was safer to bring in a stranger than it is today when most of our homes are so very private. So as we think about creating space for the stranger in our own homes, it takes some work, some wrestling, some figuring out…

There is picture of God’s realm, of God’s welcome table, that only you can create through your habits of hospitality. What will it look like?
By Pastor Cindy, our dangerously hospitable preacher


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