Tuesday, April 10, 2007

hospitality to God

Blogger Paul L wrote a post about offering hospitality to God in our meetings, and has some excellent thoughts and queries. This is something I've been thinking a lot about, although not with this language of hospitality, which I really like.

To me, the ultimate hospitality is making one's home available as the home of another. I think of how I feel over at my parents-in-laws' house. My husband and I lived there for several years, renting an apartment section of their house, and now whenever we think of "home," that's where home is. Whenever we go over there we know we're welcome. We know where most things are, and we know how to help ourselves to food.

This is how I envision our meetings for worship. They're a coming home for all of us, where we're all welcome and comfortable, and we know how to get the sustenance we need. God offers us hospitality. (Home should also be a place of challenge, where we are held accountable to being the best people we can be. If we went over to my in-laws' and ate all their food for every meal and never paid for anything, left our dirty dishes out and tracked in mud and never helped clean up, we would need to be held accountable!)

But I like the idea of offering God hospitality, too. Paul L. said something about inviting God in, making space in our lives where God is welcome, etc. But even deeper than creating a space in the clutteredness of our lives, what if we invited God to be at home there, and to do with the clutter as S/he wishes? What if we didn't clear the space, like cleaning house before company arrives, but just invited God in to see the mess we generally live with? This can be true for both individuals and communities of faith.

What I've been pondering for quite some time is our expectations of what God will "do" in meetings for worship. Do we expect God to show up? Do we have that "holy expectancy" that Thomas Kelley talks about? Do we expect God to do something out of the ordinary? Or do we expect to come to meeting and have a nice hour of semi-silence; or a nice time of singing and listening to a nice message and silence and chatting with F/friends? Do we expect to be challenged and to have to grow from what we hear in meeting? Does our hospitality only go so far as polite conversation in the sitting room, or does it extend to the mildew in the corners of the bathroom tile and the dust bunnies under the furniture? Does it extend past our facades of who we want to be, or say we are, as Friends and don't quite live up to? Are we only polite friends or acquaintances with God, or are we intimate, sharing living space, willing to get down to the nitty-gritty, with this God we've invited in?


cubbie said...

wow! i love this. so much food for thought! thank you!

Liz Opp said...

Over the past year, I'd say I have changed my expectation about expecting God to show up at Meeting for Worship.

I used to wait and wonder, "When and how will God show up...?!?"

But more often than not, these days I find myself assuming that God is already in the room, is already with me, and I am just quieting myself enough to see, hear, and feel God.

Thanks for this post. Lots to consider, between you and Paul L.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up