“Radical hospitality means vulnerability. I have to change what is comfortable or simply familiar for me in order to provide what is best for others. I have to step out of my comfort zone, my safety zone, into the disturbing place beyond, where I am awkward, afraid and unsure, and where I am in a position to make mistakes or even to fail. However, as a friend reminds me, this is also “where the magic happens.” – Vicki Carmichael, RESCUE March/April 2017
I recently heard of a local meal ministry that has experienced a significant decline in dinner guests. It piqued my interest because our numbers have increased to over 900+ additional meals per month since last year.
They serve once per week, we serve seven times a week.
Questions were asked to wrap my mind around their decrease with our steady increase. With excessive food left over and plenty of volunteers I learned they run an efficient meal ministry all-inclusive with a hired police officer present to ensure weapons are not entering the building, guests are not under the influence and bad behavior is not tolerated.
I am sensing what the issue may be.
If I did not allow those under the influence or sandpaper people to eat with us I would have reduced numbers.
Hospitality is the receiving and treating of guests and strangers in a warm, friendly and welcoming way. Radical hospitality isn’t wild-eyed or out of control, it means it is drastically different from ordinary practice, outside the norm, and provokes us to exceed expectations.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer
hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you
have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
– 1 Peter 4:4-10
We do radical hospitality well. We are not entertaining guests for dinner where the host must feel relaxed and good-natured. Christian hospitality focuses on the guests. There needs whether it is a place to stay, nourishing food, a listening ear or acceptance as the primary concern.
Sometimes their needs shout through their behavior.
We all have bad days.
Sometimes we have really bad, ugly kind of days.
Add hunger and brokenness and sometimes we just need a little grace. A hot meal for nourishment and energy, perhaps a hot cup of coffee for a caffeine pick-me-up, the sugary sweetness of a piece of cake with buttercream icing to curb our sweet tooth, and suddenly life feels more tolerable.
Radical hospitality becomes a necessary practice in our neighborhood and community as we welcome people into our ministry.
God says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” This is love in action. This is where the magic happens.
Please know I am not speaking of all those we serve, we have the kindest people who walk through our doors. I am sharing what we do well as a rescue mission to those who are hurting and struggling.
We welcome them and share God with them.