Hospitality is a ‘value’ that the gathering takes quite seriously. It is, though, one of those words that can be easily allowed to roll of the tongue but we are finding that it is a value that is so much harder to put into practice then we ever thought it would be.
Many people think they are being hospitable by having open house policy at certain times of the year, or by regularly meeting with friends, sharing meals and that kind of stuff. I’m not sure that is hospitality but more of being friendly and having good time with friends.
Hospitality is courteous. Hospitality listens. Hospitality is generous with time. Hospitality welcomes … and that applies to the ‘stranger’ or ‘alien’ in a time when we have allowed our media to give us cause to be suspicious and wary of the stranger. Hospitality is something I see missing from everyday life, and something that the gathering is trying to develop, although I do not think we are particularly great at it yet.
So why am I thinking about hospitality at this time of Advent?
It’s because I am starting to wonder whether Mary is an image of hospitality to aspire to? Mary shares everything she has with the creator forming inside her. She gives all, reputation, social standing, her very body. Not only does she share her whole being to enable Christ to grow, but she receives fully without grandiose views of who she is. She remains grounded in her acceptance. The words of the magnificat show her humble acceptance and receiving.
Is hospitality one sided if we learn only how to give? Hospitality requires both a giver and a receiver. Its seems from my limited experience that many of us, particularly in caring or ministry ‘professions’, are far happier to help and give than we are to be humbled and receive. I wonder if true hospitality requires both of us?
Mary … an image of all round hospitality in her giving and receiving is quite a challenge to me today.