Extending Hospitality

Last week I had the privilege of meeting with my “company of pastors” (a number of Christian Reformed pastors in this area).  As usual, it was good to talk about what is going on in our lives over a pizza meal.  We also read an article in preparation for our meetings.  This time it was one on singleness in the church.  Through this article we explored various perspectives on singleness, which led to a discussion on how to enfold single people in the church more effectively.  I was left with one major application: extend hospitality.  Not just to singles, but to all people.  I wonder how we can grow in our ministry of hospitality as a church but also as a people.  We claim to be a hospitable church.  But what does that hospitality look like, and how can we increase it?  And what exactly is hospitality? I’m currently reading a book by Henri Nouwen called, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life (Doubleday, 1975).  According to Nouwen, the second movement of the spiritual life is from hostility to hospitality.  As he explores this movement, he does a good job defining hospitality: “Hospitality . . . means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.  Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them a space where change can take place.” (p. 71)  I like this definition of hospitality.  Perhaps it is a helpful measure for us as we reflect on our lives.  Are we hospitable?  Do we seek to extend hospitality to others (including singles)?  And what does that hospitality look like?  . . . May our hospitable God empower us to extend hospitality to each other, to this community, and to the world.  For Jesus’s sake.