On May 2nd, I led a workshop about “radical hospitality” at Hartford Seminary. Here are some quotes and images that I shared to emphasize my belief that God loves and welcomes everyone.
You’ve heard me say it before and here it is again: each one of us is known and named by God. The name God gives us is “beloved.” Because we are God’s beloved, we are always welcome in God’s sight to receive God’s gifts of love, forgiveness, new life and hope.
The question for faith communities is – how do we intentionally share, demonstrate, and announce that welcome? That’s where hospitality comes in.
Henri Nouwen says, “Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.” (Reaching Out)
Hospitality and welcome are intentional acts. People will rarely just “happen” to come t our places of worship. We must provide an inviting website, an engaging Facebook page, and be proactive about creating a welcoming atmospher in our buildings. A book that offers very helpful insights = Side Door: How to Open Your Church to Reach More People by Charles Arn
Do our buildings reflect our welcome? If someone walks into your church, what do they see? Are there signs and symbols that reflect your eagerness to meet them?
Here is a sign that is on the door of my office:
And – how do we reach beyond our doors? How do we go out and meet God’s people where they work, play, meet, and relax?
Here are some quotes that remind me of the importance of hospitality:
“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.” (Marvin J. Ashton
“Do not despise those faithful who come to you seeking hospitality. Receive them, put them up, and set them on their way with kindness, treating them as one of yourselves.” (St. Cuthbert)
“Not all wounds are so obvious. Walk gently in the lives of others.” (unknown)
“Always leave people better than when you found them. Hug the hurt. Kiss the broken. Befriend the lost. Love the lonely.” (unknown)
“In order to unite with one another we must love one another; in order to love one another, we must know one another; in order to know one another, we must go and meet one another.” (From the testament of Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines- Brussels, 1926. Growing Hope by Neil Paynter)