Friday, February 17, 2012

Radical Hospitality

I haven't been blogging enough and think I need to get back to doing so. Bear with me.

I have been working on a sabbatical grant proposal through Lilly. The process has been really good for me. I determined I wanted to develop a them of hospitality and spirituality. My goal is to visit several Benedictine monasteries and spend time there learning about their hospitality and spirituality. St. Benedict saw a great spiritual benefit in hospitality and the monasteries all extend hospitality to visitors----and have done so since their inception.

Churches ought to be places of hospitality. Sometimes we do so by providing nice places to sit, some places offer coffee or snacks, the temperature is comfortable, and the bulletins are readable. All good things. Oh, and someone shakes your hand and says, "Hi! Welcome!"

But do we really welcome people? I have been told that my church is RADIAL and that I belong to a RADICAL denomination and that RADICAL label is usually always about one thing. We welcome everyone. Period. Slam dunk. And some of the 'everyone's' happen to be gay. This makes us radical and unusual because we accept everyone as they are and don't feel a need to 'fix' people who really don't have any desire or reason to be fixed. We accept people as they are and extend radical hospitality to everyone.

This is what makes us radical or odd or unusual. I wonder why, however, we are so unusual. I have been lectured, over the years, by people angry that we, I, am promoting sinful behavior. Of course, all the lecturers were, like me, sinful people also. I never felt and do not feel we promote sinful behavior. We simply promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ which embraces and loves everyone. We extend radical hospitality even though it's really not all that radical. We are simply doing what Jesus asked us to do.


Amy said...

Are you radically hospitable if you have not shown your members or visitors the truth of the Gospel to their own detriment. Yes, we're sinners but we must repent if we intend to follow Jesus and one day live in eternity with him. Some folks would probably be more offended knowing they spent a lifetime in church where everyone was made comfortable but never told the gospel.
Former UCC member...

John Manzo said...

Respectfully, I believe we do offer the truth of the Gospel. The two most powerful ethical messages of Jesus' preaching in the Gospels was about caring for those in need and embracing those who no one else would embrace. The greatest sin of the Gospels was the sin of self-righteousness. To me, the core of Christianity is embracing the totality of Christ and embracing and attempting to live out the teachings of Jesus. We do live out the Gospel of Christ to the best of our ability. As for the word 'comfortable,' the Gospel is both comforting and troubling. Both those words can be used for people in church. To me, it's not making people comfortable or not, it's assuring they are welcome. I thank you for your comments.