Thursday, March 5, 2009

Typical Church Hospitality

We have been reading about hospitality lately in one of my classes and it has me thinking a lot about what it looks like to truly be hospitable, to be the church who is open to all. I fear our churches often 'emphasize' hospitality without actually practicing it in its full intention. We say we want to reach out to others but instead, we cluster around those who are most like us and make us feel the most comfortable. We say we want to break down walls of separation but instead, we form cliques that make junior high friendships pale in comparison. We say we want to unite rather than divide, but it seems that Dr. King's statement still rings true...that "11:00 on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week."

Even the element of our church liturgy that ought to be the most inclusive part of the service, the Eucharist (communion), is wrought with exclusive language. Many congregations talk about the Eucharist being at an "open table," but what they usually mean is that anyone who has "accepted" Christ is welcome, and if you haven't, then respectfully do not participate. If Christ's death and resurrection was really for us all, then I'm not sure why we would exclude some from the table. If the Eucharist is meant to be an "outward sign of an invisible grace," then I'm not clear why we would deny anyone the grace of God. It baffles me!

What would it look like for followers of Christ to embrace their difference while laying down those differences for the sake of community? What would it look like for the church to pave paths of reconciliation? What if hospitality in the church looked less like a big smile and a warm handshake, and more like laying down your life alongside the person in church who most drives you nuts? What would it look like for the people of God to slowly align themselves with the hospitality of the cross, for the broken heart of God to beat strong within their chest, to embrace the impossible task of caring for a broken and bleeding world?


  1. The Eucharist continues to be something that has such depth and meaning that I am baffled and humbled. From the Isn't She Beautiful conference, to partaking in it just the other day for the first time in over a year, to your comments. I agree that table is meant for all! Regardless of any requirements we might mitigate believing them to be the intent of Christ.

  2. I agree with you buddy. The Eucharist has come to be one of my favorite parts of church community and fellowship. We are sort of looking for a new church, but that is the one thing that we will really miss about our current church...we doing Eucharist every week and I love it. Such a holy time.