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April 21, 2005



You can tell that you are influenced by Hauerwas and Miroslav Volf, and hey I think they are pretty good influences to have.

I guess what you've written might benefit from saying a little on the practicalities, or otherwise, of the practice of hospitality. I'm thinking here that we,(I) can often make excuses not to be more fluent in this practice because we've a smallish flat, a million things to do, are skint this month etc. etc. We need to articulate a practice of hospitality that is not just attractive and "possible" for the "well off", but for those who have little to. Indeed I could probably learn more about the practice of hospitality by spending some time in the poor peripheral housing estates of Glasgow than I could at a 100 sermons!

Gary Manders

The practical implications of this theology are mind blowing and like Brodie states involve us moving out of our comfort zones. I wonder what the corporate rituals/disciplines we could begin to experiment with to put hospitality into practice. Inviting the poor to a posh feast,going out into the highway and byeways. Bringing celebration to the violent streets of murder mile and reclaiming the streets for our common humanity.

andy goodliff

Thanks for the swift responses. Brodie I was thinking last night about your comment and thought about the story of the widow's offering (Mk 10:41-44). The widow gives from the little she has. Ok so some of us who have smaller houses and small incomes perhaps cannot offer 5-course meals or a home to the homeless, but does that rule us out from being hospitable? Is the widow here an example to us?


Andy - I totally agree with you on lessons to learned from the widow's offering, and used it as the basis for a post I did on the 12th April.

I think an issue the church faces is that those that get set up as examples tend not to be the widows, but the middle class business person.

So in agreement with you, none of us are ruled out from being hospitable, but we need to help people think like the widow.


I wonder if part of becoming a hospitable church is also being hospitable with each other within the church. I'm not talking about "making sure we take care of ourselves before we try taking care of others." I hear that enough and think it is riddled with problems. I am thinking more about working to establish the sort of common life into which outsiders/ the "other" person can be more easily integrated; it's work that would be done simultaneously with welcoming the stranger. How well does our individual parish do at making connections among parishioners of different socioeconomic stations, races, or ages? That is, how does our parish mirror the communal, relational life of the Triune God we worship -- is there a sense of walking together, sharing our lives, crossing sociocultural boundaries, or do we just spend an anonymous hour together on Sunday mornings?

A great post and conversation, Andy. I look forward to more!

andy goodliff

I agree exactly Jason. This post has arisen out of the context of my local church where we have grown to a size - 200-250, where we don't know anybody outside of our small friendship cliques and actually people within the church are strangers. My fear is we don't even practice hospitality within the church, let alone outside of it!

If you end up in Cambridge, I'm only 45mins done the road in a town called stevenage, so should be plently of time for conversation!


A: My own suspicion is that we really need to work on this in the church at the parish level, and that this may be one of the greatest tasks for us in this generation. (Hope that doesn't sound too hyperbolic, but I'm serious!)

We are just now starting to line up housing in Cambridge, and will look forward eagerly to making a virtual acquaintance an actual one -- and continuing the conversation.

Sarah Heidt

My local church is undergoing a discussion now about whether to allow homeless to sleep on church grounds. All the other downtown churches have a policy of calling the police to have the homeless removed! How can churches be so inhospitable!?


andy goodliff

I think it's partly because we've domesticated and secularized the gospel. It's a massive undertaking for a church to be hospitable in such a large scale way, and churches have become so busy doing other things, that the need of a stranger, of a homeless person just doesn't feature in the churches mission. Of course, this is a generalization, many churches have a brilliant ministry to the homeless and I am in awe of them. i don't know if this is any sort of response.

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