Christmas HospitalityPosted on: December 13, 2018, by : David
If you get a chance to read anything by Diana Butler Bass, take it! Here’s something from her Twitter feed that I want to share with you in this Advent season. [David]
The whole biblical tradition is about the movement of people from one home to another. Adam and Eve leave Eden and make home and family in a place they never intended. The first story of the Bible is a story of exile and finding home.
And so it continues. Noah and his family flee the flood, survive, and build a new home.God calls Abraham and Sarah out from their home. The founder of the three great faiths left Ur to find a home with God. In this story, hospitality emerges as the most important virtue of faith. Welcoming the stranger is like welcoming God. Judaism, Christianity & Islam teach that human beings are all wanderers, exiles & aliens. Thus, we welcome as we dream of being welcomed.Jacob was an exile who returned to reconcile with his brother. Joseph went unwillingly to Egypt, eventually leading God’s people to a rich & abundant land. In Egypt, the Hebrew immigrants prospered. But they were so successfu lthat they scared Pharaoh & he made them slaves. Moses set them free and led them back to the land of Israel. Exiles back to their home. The history following was one of constant movement, of settlement, exile, immigration,return.
The New Testament opens with two stories of movement. Mary and Joseph must leave their town and register in a government census. Thus, Jesus was born away from home.As a result of a prophecy, Herod seeks to kill him. Mary, Joseph & baby flee to Egypt to escape, not to return for years. Jesus first instruction to his disciples is NOT “believe in me” but “Follow me.”Because faith is a life of being an immigrant, homeless to find a home in God.And that’s exactly how the early church lived. They left Jerusalem and went to Judea and out into the whole Roman world. The Bible is a document of immigrants, itinerants, exiles, strangers, and sojourners of all sorts.
And that’s why we are all DREAMERS. We dream of being settled in grace, in the love and full embrace of God. We dream of a world where all exiles find home, where all strangers rest in peace, comfort, and joy. We dream of the time where we all plant vine & fig tree, where milk and honey flow. We dream of no boundaries that create war and division. We dream of swords beaten into plowshares. We dream God’s dream. If you are in the family of biblical faith, you are a dreamer.
A vast human family of exiles, seeking and finding, offering hospitality, and caring for all on the journey. Keep dreaming. Always. For it is a biblical dream, one that is the very center of the human drama of creation, redemption, and joy. And hospitality, being both guests and hosts, must be practiced that this dream manifests in the world. Without hospitality – welcoming the stranger – movement of peoples results in colonization, exclusion, and violence. The Biblical dream turns to nightmare without that practice of welcome, of sharing table, of food and gifts. So, dream. Live graciously as sojourner and live generously as citizen.Practice hospitality. Love one another.
Diana Butler Bass