The Call of Hospitality (Doesn't Need to be long)

This Sunday we’re talking about hospitality and peace. I’m pulling from Romans 12:3-13 but especially the very last line from v. 13 “extend hospitality to strangers.” Hospitality is not only one of my favorite themes in Scripture, but in theological and philosophical writings as well. While I was preparing earlier today, I thought about the first time I ever preached at Barberton Friends Church. That morning I spoke for close to an hour and basically exegeted two separate pericopes: one was a section in Ephesians and another was a section in Luke (two of my favorite NT books). Afterwards, Emily told me that the reason the message was so long was because I had been preparing for that one my whole life! It was all the material I saved up for the past 20 years! Now that I got all that off my chest maybe the following sermons could be a tad shorter.

I had a similar feeling today. I could talk about what hospitality looks like, what it means theologically, give stories, post examples on the slide, read verses, sing songs, show clips of movies (have you seen Serenity the Movie? It totally deals with hospitality themes.) and on and on. But alas, I need to keep it simple. No one wants me to rattle on and on for hours about how hospitality has undecidability inscribed within it (hostis + posse) a la John Caputo and Derrida. My guess is most people aren’t interested in the Latin… Nor do I need to necessarily trace out every possible example I can imagine. All for what? As if you talk long enough and amass enough “evidence” then people will say “I got it.” Which isn’t what I’m aiming for at all anyways (Most of the people who listen to me on Sundays already practice this better than I ever have).  Instead, what I’m hoping for on Sunday is that we recognize the call, be it a call that is at times impossible, to live hospitably right here in Camas, Washington. How that call looks will be for over the lunch conversations. I plan to share some of my own passion around this, discuss in brief the life of Levi Coffin a Quaker abolitionist who practiced radical hospitality, and then mediate on Paul’s words. Hospitality is so important to me because it is what I myself have received both from others and from God. In a world filled with hostility, even Christian hostility, we are called to move towards a peace that welcomes the unwelcome and befriends the enemy. This is much easier said then done, but I do believe we are to heed the call.

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.