Friday, January 29, 2010

Hospitality and witness

Recently I was asked to preach at the local Churches Together service for Christian Unity. I was given the title and passage for the talk, it was from Luke's Emmaus Road narrative and the topic was "Hospitality as witness."

Now I have to confess that at first sight the only connection with hospitality I could see was that Jesus ate some fish, and the particular text about opening their minds didn't seem to fit the theme too well either. So I began to wonder where hospitality fitted in the kingdom and in God's mission too. Slowly things began to surface as I read through the gospels and thought about Jesus and food.

In the end I must say that my talk was far from the finished article. So many questions were still unanswered in my own mind that I could only present half a survey if that. But there's something here that has caught my imagination. From what I've heard, it caught a few other imaginations too.

Jesus offers an invitation to come, there is hospitality in the kingdom, there is hospitality in that very invitation. Hospitality is an invitation to share personal space and a giving away of time and attention. I have this other phrase wandering around my head too: Sacred spaces in public places.

Somewhere here is an idea about inviting people far from God to share our sacred space on their turf. In the parks and cafes, restaurants and galleries, shopping malls and sports fields.

It's all very fuzzy, but I'd be interested in some comments and thoughts about the whole idea. I think I'll post my notes from the talk too.


Wiggy said...

Richard - understand where you are coming from re sacred spaces in public spaces. We are just at the start of planning a series of sunday afternoons in June which will be based in our local large park. The idea is bringing church to the park but not as we may recognise it in that there is no service, no singing, no offering and no sermon. It is more about bringing the community aspect of church to the park, so we'll be having games, community picnic, open air BBQ, bouncy castle, chill out areas with gazeebos and comfy cushions for the fun side of things.

Then the sacred - we're planning a prayer station where people can come and write things for prayer or to be prayed with, a labryinth / journey installation where they can interact or look at objects which assist them in thinking about God and our relationship with him.

We're hoping that it creates dialogue as opposed to monologue.

And most importantly, our aim is for the local community to come away saying something like away 'didn't know church could be like that'. If they do then I think we'll feel like we have begun to bring the church closer to the community, sacred place in a public space....

Richard Pool said...

That sounds really interesting. Let me know how it turns out; what lessons you learn etc.