Last night Jude and John Tiersma Watson came for dinner. They usually live in LA and work with Innerchange but are currently staying in La Conner for a sabbatical break. I had met Jude at the CCDA conference some years ago but had not seen them since. It was a wonderful evening of getting to know this delightful couple with whom we discovered we have much in common. (The photo in case you have not guessed is of John & Eliacin Rosario – as Eliacin pointed out it is not of John & Jude)
Entertaining in this way reminded me of one of my favourite books on hospitality is Christine Pohl’s Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. It is also one of the most challenging books I have read because Christine talks about how in Biblical times hospitality was about entertaining strangers not friends. I think about this a lot when we have people over for dinner. Many of the people we entertain are ones we have met through our ministry and though we do not know them very well we at least know a little about them. I wonder what it would be like just to open our home to people off the street that we don’t know. Certainly a scary thought.
The only time I have ever experienced this type of hospitality was when I lived on the mercy ship Anastasis. In each port we used to hold what we called a “Highways and Byways” banquet. Taking the story Jesus tells about going out into the streets to invite people to the wedding feast, we used to arrange one evening in every port where we literally did just that. We all went out into the streets around the port and invited people home for dinner… and often we had homeless people and prostitutes and transvestites on board because they were the type of people that lived in the port area. I still remember a couple of transvestites who came on board. they were absolutely amazed that Christians would ask them home. Some of the crew stayed in touch with them for years after. Their hearts were touched and transformed by this gesture.