For the Christian, hospitality is not an option. As sojourners on this earth, we are in almost constant pursuit of a sense of home.
Hospitality is the very human endeavor of making another person feel at home, especially as we know so well what it feels like to be away.
Etymologically, the word “hospitality” derives from words that, at their roots, mean “stranger” or even “enemy.” Because, here’s the deal. . .even people with the hospitality gene know that the exercise of hospitality means that it is often at the service of those we do not know. . .and maybe those we don’t like. It’s great when our hospitable energies are laser focused on those people we enjoy, but even then there is an element of real sacrifice. At the very least, hospitality is not always easy.
When we make room for another human being in our lives or in our homes, that almost always means setting aside ourselves.
During the Advent and Christmas seasons, our lives are often oriented around efforts to welcome people into our homes or accept their hospitality as guests ourselves. There is real grace and balance required to make others feel truly welcome. And, as a guest, there is certain delicacy to how we properly accept the generosity and openness of others.
Hospitality is an indelible mark of this season.
Is this emphasis on hospitality during the holidays, in some way, the Christian’s answer for the Savior’s inhospitable welcome to our world?
The Messiah for whom creation yearned with eagerness entered into our midst by way of a “no vacancy” sign. And for over two millennia, have we been trying to make it right by opening doors, setting tables, and using this time of year to extend Christ’s love to others?
Hospitality is an artful practice of virtue in pursuit of the home and family for which we were created. Acting as a host or being a guest both give us the opportunity to love others in extraordinary, God-like ways. And both come with their own measure of sacrifice of our personal preferences, agendas, and control.
And, while hospitality is typically experienced when one person invites another person (often a stranger) into his or her home, it can also be when that same person simply makes another human being comfortable and at ease anywhere.
That feeling of belonging, comfort, and provision is the essence of what it is to be “at home.” This is the aim of hospitality.
We can be hospitable in our homes as well as our places of work, study, recreation, and worship—even online. Hospitality does not begin and end at our domestic doorstep.
This holiday season, we want Bellator Society to be a welcoming community. We will be sharing reflections on hospitality and other seasonal pieces meant to make you feel more “at home” among us as we sojourn together in this place that is not our home.