Our group meets in the tranquil surroundings of Julie’s house and her warm hospitality and generosity make the evenings a delight. There is a structure to each session as we follow the chapters in Christine Pohl’s book but we are eager to allow our discussion to flow as we explore what 21st century Christian hospitality might look like.
We are becoming more confident in understanding key passages from the Bible, taking turns to read these aloud and link into our learning about how Christian hospitality has evolved. Our group, when at full strength, numbers 8 and although we are all women, this was an organic decision! In fact many of the biblical references we have looked at refer to the role of men in the arena of hospitality.
We have learnt from early Christian writers how hospitality evolved, about the role of monasteries in the provision of hospitality for the sick and the poor, and then the 19th century Methodist focus on ‘face to face’ Christian hospitality.
What might our role be at St John’s in providing hospitality, especially for the ‘strangers in our midst’? We have discussed more home based hospitality: looking at a shared space to meet with ‘strangers’, the idea of a food bank, Sunday afternoon teas with a new church family and providing transport for the elderly or infirm.
And all of us have said we are reshaping our own thoughts and responses when we see and meet strangers who are suffering in some way.