Sunday, February 26, 2012

Theology of Hospitality

I'm preaching on Acts 16:11-15 this morning, and although I think the main point of the passage is Paul's multiple boundary crossing acceptance of Lydia, it's got me thinking too about hospitality - a notable subtheme of Luke/Acts.  here is a quick sketch of a biblical theology of hospitality, I'm sure more could be added, please do so in the comments!

Creation - In the biblical account of creation God is portrayed as the divine host making a home for all earth's creatures and providing them with food.

Israel - In the desert God hosts his people on their pilgrimage, providing water, bread and meat.  At the same time he teaches them to host him, by providing a tabernacle and sacrifices they play host to God.

Incarnation - Jesus' first act is to be a guest of someone else, and throughout his ministry as an itinerant preacher he is dependent on the hospitality of others, his gratuitous "guesting" brings him criticism (friend of sinners) but was a central part of his message.  But in the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000, in the miraculous provision of fish or even a room to share passover Jesus reveals himself as host, echoing both Gods hosting in creation and in the exodus.  In giving himself upon the cross Jesus offers us his own body (John 6, 1 Cor 11) and in his triumph over death prepares a home for all God's people to live as God's guests (John 14, Rev 21).

Eschatology - Isaiah 25 promises a divinely provided feast for all nations, while Matt 22 uses the image of a wedding feast with God as host to describe the kingdom.

Ecclesiology - So as God's people a key spiritual discipline is to image, enact and embody both God's hospitality and God's condescension as guest, in sharing bread and wine, in opening our homes to strangers, in being willingly dependent on the hospitality of others (esp in mission), in giving thanks for the gifts of creation and in sharing them with an open hand.

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
   a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
   the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
   the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
 8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
   from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
   from all the earth.
            The LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25)

4 comments:

  1. I really like that, Jonathan. I trust the sermon went well.

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  2. heh, the sermon got cut short but was probably the better for it. Didn't get onto the subject of hospitality at all really, so all the more glad i shared it here. Thanks for the encouragement Craig and Ali :-)

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  3. Challenging... particularly the section about ecclesiology. Another reminder to share our homes with others. I liked it.

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