Our focus on embracing the wild hospitality of God is changing the way I look at life and at our world. The concept of stewardship, so often used to define our relationship to the rest of creation and one which I have used for a long time in preference to the concept of dominion, still seems inadequate. It gives the impression that we are the ones in charge and are responsible to look after all else that God created. God is seen as an often strict and critical master. There is no sense of mutuality, no recognition of the need to listen to the creation and consult it in what we do and how we steward.
If however I recognize myself as both a guest in God’s world and a host for God’s world my attitude changes. There is a sense of mutual relationship, of intimacy both with God and creation that is quite profound. I am a guest not a steward. My whole life is a generous gift of God’s lavish bounty. Beauty, abundance, joy, generosity and love, all these I receive from God and much more. All these are gifts to me of hospitality and caring. Gifts that I am responsible to share with all the other guests at the table – not just the human ones but also the animals and plants of God’s good creation.
Last week, in her post God’s Hospitality: Hosting and Guesting, Elaine Breckenridge expressed something similar. She asked: What does it mean to behave like a revered guest at the banquet God has created for us on our planet? The word “guest” invites me to consciously tread lightly on the Earth. Being a guest on the Earth has a more intimate feel to it than “being a steward of creation” or “reducing my carbon footprint.” It speaks to me of finding ways to reverence the Earth in the same way that indigenous people do.
There is more to this concept than just the recognition of ourselves as guests. It is easy for us to see God as our host, but God as guest which I talked about last week is another matter. I am both inspired and stunned by the thought expressed by Richard Middleton in his book A New Heaven and A New Earth that our purpose is to transform the whole earth into a fitting place, a hospitable place, not just for humankind to dwell, but also for God to dwell. Can you imagine it? God longs for a beautiful place where all creation flourishes and enjoys abundant provision, a place in which God too feels welcomed and comfortable, able to walk once more in a hospitable relationship with humankind.
This concept has so grabbed my mind that I cannot turn away from it. God not as host but as guest. God longing to be invited to live in the midst of this beautiful, divinely inspired creation once more but waiting for the creation to be restored and our relationships to be renewed so that God feels comfortable here once more.
Andy Wade and I talked about that in our recent Facebook live session when we shared how he transformed his backyard to garden with God in mind. He cut out the straight lines. He stopped using pesticides. He planted to attract a wide variety of wildlife and created contemplative spaces that were not just inviting for him, but he felt also for God. That transformed space did indeed have a strong sense of the presence of God about it.
So as I sit here thinking about this today I realize that each of us has the opportunity to transform our own little space as a place of welcome for God. In the garden it might mean doing away with pesticides and harsh chemicals, but in our lives it means doing away with hatred and discrimination and indifference to other humans and to all of creation.
I want to be a hospitable person. I want others to feel welcome in my home, but I also want to be a person who welcomes God into a space that is comfortable and inviting. What about you? What kind of relationship do you long for with God? Is there one small thing you could do this week to provide a more welcoming environment?
Did you know we have a resource for the upcoming St Aidan’s Day?
Also includes a music download for “A Special Place” by Carol Dixon! Check it out in our shop.