Reckless Hospitality

Header Image: Daoudi Aissa

 

By: Bishop Geoffrey Woodcroft

Former assistant to the Manitoba Northern Ontario Synod Bishop, Larry Ulrich, told the following story to a gathering of Missional Church disciples:

“When I was canvassing for The Heart and Stroke Foundation this year, I was struck by the number of people who said they had grown accustomed to my yearly visit to solicit donations. Some added that I was the only person from the neighbourhood they knew.”

“I was curious about these comments and so I decided to consciously observe my neighbourhood. I discovered that most of us have lawn and snow removal services, all of us have remote control garage door openers and backyard fences. These observations are very important. There were few, if any, genuine relationships among neighbours. We do not spend our home time in the front yard, and the fenced backyard is a deterrent to conversations. Secondly, when folk leave for, and return from work, we do so from a heated attached garage.”

“Our neighbourhood street seemed to be two parallel rows of islands”

A lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” When Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan, the lawyer must have felt his world shaken. Jesus showed him that a neighbour is one who reaches beyond their environment of imminent danger, societal normalcy, and discriminative injustice to find God waiting. A neighbour is one for whom the safety, welfare, and hope of all others is a prime concern. A neighbour is one for whom Reckless Hospitality is always a first response.

Reckless Hospitality disrupts the flow of normalcy, challenges unjust structures, and rushes toward dangerous situations. Its prime objective is recognizing God through the lens of Christ in other persons. Its function is the disciple’s pathway, loving God with heart, mind, soul, and strength. By loving one’s neighbour as oneself, disciples meet God right here, right now. Reckless Hospitality is leaving vulnerable all you know, all your stuff, and your employment to be with a person in need.

We tell the story of Jesus timely birth again and again because it directs our activity toward doing something radical in the midst of relentless status quo. It calls disciples to see God in the most vulnerable among us, as an infant. We do this as the Church of Jesus in its many iterations. This is a living church, yet it is also horribly fractured and broken. Disciples engage the world exactly as the earthly Jesus engaged the world, with great courage, risk, and vulnerability. Reckless Hospitality marks disciples as they who go against the grain, living in such a way that an observer will ask “Why are you helping? Why do you risk yourself so boldly? Why do you care?”

This world, God’s creation, is in great pain. The earth itself is crying-out. Millions of people are displaced by war and/or climate change. Humans are yearning for reconciliation and healing, while at the same time treating one another with violence and cruelty. We are fully aware of the pain. It is here at the height of pain and suffering that God calls disciples to employ Reckless Hospitality: to care for a little baby, that is all little babies, showing how God’s love conquers all that is dark, evil, and hopeless.

May God’s eternal blessing continue in you as your hospitality in Christ encourages those around you.

Author

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