Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hospitality

Christians have always been hosts and guests, natives and strangers, citizens and sojourners.  In our contemporary world of strangers, tourists, and nomads, Henri Nouwen proclaims, 'When hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests....Then, in fact, the disctinction between host and guest proves to be artifical and evaporates in the recognition of newfound unity. '

In a time of hate-filled extremism, some Christians still long for a world of nonviolent love, of reconciling peace.  Of human wholeness, of true brother and sisterhood, in God's compassion.  For them, hospitality opens the way to practicing peace, doing a tangible thing that can change the world.

As Martin Marty, a noted Lutheran theologian, says, 'In a world where strangers meet strangers with gunfire, barrier walls, spiritually landmined paths, the spirit of revenge, and the record of intransigence, it sounds almost dainty to come on the scene and urge that hospitality has a strong and promising place.

Diana Butler Bass: Christianity for the Rest of Us, HarperOne, published 2006

The Henri Nouwen quote comes from Reaching Out: the three movements of the spiritual life (New York: Doubleday, 1975) pg 47.
The Marty Martin quote comes from When Faiths Collide, pg 128 (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
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