Friday, May 23, 2008

The lost art of hospitality--welcoming the stranger

On Sunday I'll begin a new sermon series on hospitality. Whereas today we think of hospitality primarily in terms of inviting our friends over for dinner or throwing welcome parties, the original roots of hospitality go to welcoming strangers, the poor, and those who are vulnerable due to their status as aliens. I have been highly influenced in this by the the book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine D. Pohl.
Hospitality of all kinds is almost a lost art in American society. People rarely have people of any kind into their homes. Going out to eat with friends is good. But it pales in comparison to the level of intimacy and familiarity that is gained by bringing a person into our homes, with our children running around us. It is much easier to pay others to provide food for friends than it is to take the time to devote to entertaining people in our homes.
But again, I have slipped back into thinking of hospitality as primarily directed towards friends and people of equal socio-economic status. Ancient hospitality was directed towards the stranger, the alien, and the poor. In some mysterious way, the Bible says that through these interactions we encounter God.
Why do you think that hospitality is a lost art in today's society? To whom should we extend our hospitality?


Reader of Tomes said...


I wonder if you have seen the Practicing Our Faith website? One of their practices is hospitality. They have a lot of fantastic material at

Look forward to getting to know you better. Jason Fikes, A&M Church of Christ

James said...

Hi Jason. Thanks for the link. I checked out the site--it looks like there are a lot of good resources there.

I believe that my wife or parents met you on Sunday and said that you went to Fuller? What was your area of study?

I would be happy to correspond with you and get to know you as well. Thank you!

Cynthia said...

Well, it really is a small world. Jason is the teacher of my favorite class on Sunday morning!!!

James said...


It's great to hear from you! How are things in Houston? It is indeed a small world. I hope that we have a chance to see each other soon. Sounds like you have a great teacher there and a great church. God bless.