Hospitality – Opening Doorways to the Kingdom
MSA Imaginings May 2014
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)
These words revolve in my mind today as I remember rich hospitality we have experienced in the last couple of months and anticipate the hospitality to come. Easter is over and we have entered a season that beckons us to be hospitable to friend and stranger alike. One of Christ’s first appearances after his resurrection was as the stranger on the Emmaus road, His true nature was recognized only when he broke bread together with his fellow travellers. This was the first Eucharistic celebration of the new kingdom. He also comes as Christ, the friend by the sea of Galilee, preparing breakfast for his closest followers.
Through the doorways of hospitality to friend and stranger, those first disciples were welcomed to the banquet feast of God. Today too, the purpose of God’s people is to invite the stranger in and offer hospitality by breaking bread together, sharing the Eucharistic feast. By so doing we both welcome Christ and represent Christ.
Tom’s and my rector, Peter Strimer, preached about this on Sunday. What held my attention was his question: What if the disciples had not invited Jesus in? What if it had been too far outside their comfort zone to extend hospitality to a stranger? This will be our theme at MSA for the next few months. How do we both represent and welcome the hospitality of God into our lives?
Hospitality – A Way of Life at the Mustard Seed House
Hospitality has always been an important value for us at the Mustard Seed House. A couple of weeks ago we hosted Al Tizon, co-president of Evangelicals for Social Action, and Shane Claiborne from The Simple Way, as well as MSA’s own team member Andy Wade for the Inhabit conference. This last week our good friend, worship curator Mark Pierson from New Zealand, spent several days with us, and today we await the arrival of Dave Jansen from Reba Place Fellowship.
Later in May Tim Nafziger, assistant director of Christian Peacemaker Teams and his wife Charletta, will visit us. Then June 9th we will host Chris Smith and John Pattison for a discussion of their book, Slow Church.
If you are interested in being part of one of these discussions please let us know and come enjoy the hospitality of the Mustard Seed House with us.
Hospitality at Godspace
“Hospitality – Opening Doorways to the Kingdom” will be our theme for the summer, and we hope you will join us:
- How have you experienced the hospitality of God through strangers? Perhaps you have welcomed strangers who have turned out to be angels in disguise. Or maybe you have been a stranger and known the welcome of others. Consider telling your story in a blog post on Godspace in the next few months.
- There are other aspects of hospitality you might like to write about too – like how to be hospitable on a budget, or how to host a potluck that is a safe space for people with allergies and other restrictions. This offers up many fun opportunities for us for the coming months, and we hope that you will participate.
- Contribute a recipe that you use for hospitality with the story of how this became important and why. Last week I posted this recipe for quinoa muffins which I made to provide a quick and easy but nutritious breakfast for my Inhabit guests. Recipes like this make hospitality simple yet festive, welcoming and fun.
Hospitality at the Celtic Retreat
Hospitality is also the theme for our annual Celtic retreat this August. Jesus, who welcomes all who come to him, shows us the pattern that is repeated in Eastern hospitality and in the Celtic way of life. The idea that the one I welcome is the “Christ in the stranger’s guise” calls me to recognize the image of God in all persons and the presence of God in all creation. This understanding changes my attitude toward every person. I open my heart and seek the good, rather than raise my walls of defense and look with suspicion. Celtic spirituality teaches not only hospitality to the stranger but welcome to the poor and the marginalized.
At the retreat we will use the life of Brigid, one of my favourite Celtic saints, to guide us. She became abbess at the monastery of Kildaire where, under her leadership, a thousand meals were reportedly served each day. I always use Brigid’s Feast as a grace for our retreats. This year our liturgies, songs and scripture readings will also revolve around her love for the poor and her generous hospitality.
Each year our Saturday meals are potlucks with delicious salads and desserts contributed by attendees. This year we would like to start collecting some of these wonderful recipes to help us get to know each other better. So if you plan to come, write out your recipe with your name and contact information send it to us so that we can make these available for other attendees. This year’s retreat will be a grand summer celebration of welcome and feasting.
Most exciting of all we will dedicate our first building on the property. Last week Tom and I visited the site where the green roof is now being installed. It should be completed by the time of the retreat, and we hope that you can join us for this exciting celebration.
Hospitality with Justice at the Table
In September, Andy Wade will host a Justice at the Table workshop here at the Mustard Seed House. Join us as we explore the intricate connections between faith and the food we eat. “Who is excluded from your table?” is one question I have grappled with since Ricci Kilmer first conducted this workshop three years ago. Our choices about what to eat and how to eat it impact not only our own lives but the lives of those who produce our food and those who feel comfortable sharing our food too.
In preparation for this event you might like to hold a “Just Dinner Party”. Plan a menu of local and/or organic food. Consider how what we eat impacts the health of our bodies and of the earth. With your guests discuss the challenge of hunger and the opportunities for action, renewal and transformation in our eating practices.
Hospitality with the MSA Team
How do we welcome the stranger through our living choices, community involvement, and support of local businesses? How do we resource and equip others to be God’s hospitality to our world? This will be the focus for the MSA blog over the next few months. Tom Sine and intern Jon Plummer will ask questions about hospitality as a way of life.
Andy Wade addresses similar issues as he continues to redesign his front garden as a welcoming place of hospitality rooting him in the neighbourhood and larger community. I love the insights in his post Planting Fruit Trees Is Not for Nomads.
We would love to see the writing community expand for this blog too. This is your invitation to join us:
- Are you part of a community you would like to write about and connect to MSA?
- Have you started a business or social entrepreneurial venture?
- Have you reinvented your own life to be able to respond with God’s hospitality to the world?
We want to hear your stories and share them with others.
MSA is growing and flourishing, partly because of the dedicated work of our assistants Kari Rauh and Katie Metzger who help keep us organized. Kari’s good efforts resulted in our newest free resource: How to Create a Faith-Based Community Garden. She is currently working on another downloadable resource on Celtic Spirituality. We also have a growing team of volunteers who help in the garden and with hospitality for events and research for resources.
Perhaps you too would like to join the Mustard Seed team and do some hands-on learning about the hospitality of God. We still have an internship available for anyone interested in helping with logistics and marketing for the Celtic retreat and other upcoming events. Or you might like to help us with video production as we seek to interview those who visit so that their wisdom can be more widely shared. This would suit a summer intern or could be taken on as a year-long internship. Interns participate in events and have the opportunity to meet MSA collaborators from around the world. Mentoring in spiritual formation is part of the internship. Housing at the Mustard Seed House may also be available.
The Mustard Seed team is living in the hope of the resurrection in the midst of the daily challenges of life, and we trust that you are too.
We appreciate your prayers and supportiveness.
Mustard Seed Associates