Houses of Hospitality

What keeps us from offering hospitality to others?

By Marianne Diaz

Do the domestic churches which we live in reflect a response to the biblical call to welcome the stranger in our midst? What keeps us from offering hospitality to others? Are we afraid of the financial sacrifice? Will our homes, food, drink and conversation live up to the expectations of our guests? What will our neighbors think of seeing that person's car or truck parked in our driveway? In biblical times travelers depended upon others for their survival and offering hospitality to strangers could be inviting danger into one's household. Hospitality is no longer necessary to provide food, water and shelter to people on journeys, but it is more and more necessary for the spiritual nourishment of communal bonds to grow.

Thousands of years later, hospitality remains a risky business. What if a guest invites us to change? What if someone challenges our perspective on life? Inviting people into one's home risks the development of communal bonds that might call forth even more commitment and sacrifice on the part of the host. Jesus invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus' house and granted him the ultimate gift of forgiveness and transformation. While all dinner parties might not be so potentially revelatory of God's love for us, Abraham and Sarah risked welcoming three strangers into their home and they received the gift of Isaac, the fulfillment of God's promises! The guests and the hosts actually reverse the typical roles of giving and receiving in these two stories. Do not be afraid to welcome the stranger, they may be bringing to your home a greater gift than you can imagine—the gift of themselves and the love of God.