This has been my longest blog series I’ve written because it resonates so much within me at this time. In all that I have written there is one element which Scripture repeatedly holds out to us as being foundational for being a Household of Faith and this is the practice of hospitality.
In the first century everyone practised hospitality. It was something you just did and we see it again and again throughout Scripture. The fact that Peter in 1 Peter 8 verse 9 has to remind and encourage those churches under persecution to practice hospitality, when it would have been easy and understandable to not to, shows how central it was to their health and wellbeing as churches. In all of the stories of Acts that I began this series with, all of them presume hospitality as the glue which would not just hold these diverse communities together but which would be THE sign that God’s Kingdom had come among them.
In the twenty first century can the same be said of us? The early church took a cultural norm and turned it on its head by making it THE way by which the truth of the Gospel would be demonstrated. Has the church instead today allowed our cultural norm of keeping ourselves to ourselves and mixing only with those like us to mould and shape and define us in opposition to the Gospel? If you think I am being harsh or unkind think on how we accept the definition of hospitality as an industry and isolation almost a virtue. Have we have allowed our tables to become like barriers to keep people out or will we dare to allow them to become like bridges we use to invite those who are different to us in?
To be a Household of Faith is to discover that at our table we always have three extra guests as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit just love to sit down with us as we eat.
To be a Household of Faith is to choose to share our table with others so that as the writer to the Hebrews says, we may ‘welcome angels as guests without knowing it’.
To be a Household of Faith is to take the gift of our home and to pray that the love, the grace, the mercy and the joy of Jesus may be so real in and among us that our family, our friends and our neighbours may all say that God is truly among us because they encounter him as we pass either the Hendo’s or the ketchup.