Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making Room

"It is in the shelter of each other that people live." - Irish Proverb

Our Community reading for the "Inviting Posture" has been Making Room by Christine Pohl. The quote above falls at the end of chapter 8 entitled, "Making a Place for Hospitality." Pohl contends that an open heart to others assumes an open home or common space. And it it in this space that people truly LIVE.

I've been pondering what this looks like practically for us as a community here in Golden Hill. How do we BE a community of hospitality, including those on the margins of our city.

I wonder how God might be inviting us to practice more hospitality within the common space of our community.

There are so many who go to bed alone at night, covered in darkness and despair. Isolation is not what God intended for humanity. Hospitality is a central part of our identity as followers of the Jesus.

May we continue to listen, learn and live out the shelter of God as the body of Christ.


Cris said...

Thanks for the share :)

Rob Yackley said...

In her book Pohl makes it clear that hospitality is not about the spread you serve or the ambiance you create; at it's core it's about making people feel valued, respected, and cared for when they are with us.

Wouldn't it be awesome if every guest who walked through our door and into our community felt like they were the most important person in the room that night?! Wouldn't it be cool if they left feeling genuinely loved and flat-out honored? I think we can actually do that if we all start doing some small things like:

• Making sure we personally greet every guest and make an attempt to learn something about them before the night is over
• Making sure our guests always get something to eat and drink before we do
• Never letting a guest to be alone in the room. At least one of us--and preferably not the one who invited them--should always be engaging our guests.
• Personally saying goodbye to every guest and thanking them for coming to be with us.

We've been talking about what it means to be an inviting people. Pohl reminds us that true hospitality in one of the central ways that followers of Jesus have always done that.

Christiana said...

Thanks for that exhortation and inspiration, Rob!

Pohl goes so far as to say that next to offering food and drink to our guests, the most important expression of welcome is giving someone our full attention. I too hope that as we become more and more of an inviting community, others would experience the love, acceptance and even "full attention" of God through us. Knowing of course that we are a flawed people who will make mistakes but who will be faithful to the process learning HOW to follow Jesus in this way.

In the last chapter Pohl talks about the spiritual rhythms of hospitality. Welcoming others into our lives requires healthy rhythms of nourishment which include healthy boundaries. Boundaries and values not only preserve our identity and calling but they also make our long term care for others sustainable. And if our care is not sustainable, than our impact is stunted....or possibly even harmful!

One of the rhythms that stood out to me was the rhythm of CELEBRATION. Celebration takes on many different forms and can actually strengthen us for the journey ahead, even through the tough times.

Pohl quotes Jean Vanier who says, "Celebration is nourishment and resource. It makes present the goals of the community in symbolic form; and so brings hope and new strength to take up again everyday life with more love. Celebration is a sign of the resurrection which gives us strength to carry the cross of each day. There is an intimate bond between celebration and the cross."

I hope our guests can experience our celebration as a sign of the resurrection for them and for the whole world!

R-bex said...

I really appreciated Pohl’s approach to hospitality being less about a spiritual gifting, although it certainly can be, and more as a Christian tradition, found deep in our roots. At the core of Israel's identity was the fact that they were an alien people. When God told Abraham he would be blessed with innumerable offspring, he said, "..your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there and will be oppressed.." (Gen. 15) Israel's experience of not belonging, of being the outsider, gave them unique perspective of not only God’s graciousness, but also the importance of showing that graciousness to those in need, just as they were. This story coupled with the radical way in which Jesus came to earth again reminds me of how important these things are to the heart of God. Our examples we are to follow of God’s chosen people and of God incarnate are heavily intertwined with poverty, oppression and what are response should be.

Last night in the book club we were expressing a desire to have our lives intersect with those in our neighborhood that are currently without….some without homes, without food, without friendship. Collin mentioned this church in PB that has picnics in the park a couple times a month. We loved the idea of having a common space to gather, and to do it together. We are hoping to plan an afternoon picnic in a few weeks where we can share a meal, linger in the park and turn some strangers into friends, and hopefully “reflect the diversity of the anticipated heavenly banquet.”