Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hospitality and Social Justice: A Curious Mix to Start the New Year?

Resolutions. We all make them from time-to-time. A resolution is a firm commitment to do something…to see it through. 

If you read my blog time you know I choose a word or phase each year. Like many of you, I also make resolutions. When the words I choose and the resolutions work together life is good.

I hadn’t selected a word for the upcoming year until yesterday. 

I read my Bible every morning, but for the past few months I’ve been committing passages to memory. Not a verse here and there, but whole passages. I started studying Romans 12 a few weeks ago. I’ll continue that study, but for 2019 I am resolved to commit that passage to memory.

It is from that passage I have chosen the word “hospitality.” 

Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13

People who know me know I love to entertain people in my home. I enjoy setting a beautiful table. I enjoy cooking for people. I find energy in conversations and I enjoy playing games. I invite people into my home to stay and have never had a problem making friends.

It's easy to think of entertaining friends in my home
...but to entertain strangers?
That requires hospitality of the heart.

            But in my Sunday school class, we read the words of Jesus in Matthew when he speaks of the sheep and the goats. Chapter 25, verse 35 speaks to this act of hospitality…not to a select few but to those in need.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Matthew 25:35

These aren’t merely acts of kindness to people we know. They are acts of social justice. God calls us to be advocates for others, to seek justice for those who do not have a voice for themselves. 

Oh sure, I’ve shopped for the needy child on the wish tree at Christmas and I’ve donated canned goods to a food pantry or fixed a box of goodies to give away at Thanksgiving. But in what ways have I been called to offer hospitality to those in need? How have I acted on behalf of social justice? There is more to this than buying a turkey and signing a petition. So for this new year, I am looking for ways to serve God through being hospitable.
I enjoyed working on a house for a family in need...but I never thought of it in terms of hospitality.
I am looking for ways to help those who lack food and clean drinking water. People needing housing, clothing, and medical care. Visiting in prison? We’ll see how God opens doors. 

It’s a little scary. But the word I’ve selected every year holds that same tension. The unknown. And every word has played out to draw me closer to Jesus in ways I never expected. 

What word will shape your 2019?  

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