I finished the first book on my list!
Making Room is both a history and guide book through the practice of extreme hospitality. Christine D. Polh spent time with several intentional Christian Communities that practice this form of radical hospitality to learn how it is done most effectively. These communities exist both nationally and internationally and serves people from all walk of life. Pohl writes “Today when we think of the hospitality we don’t think first of welcoming strangers. We pictures having family and friends over for a pleasant meal. Or we think of the ‘hospitality industry,’ of hotels and restaurants which are open to strangers as long as they have money or credit cards … but we rarely see it as a spiritual obligation or as a dynamic expression of vibrant Christianity.” The organizations that practice radical hospitality provide welcome to refugees, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, people with mental and physical disabilities, and other who live on the margins of society.
In reading this book, I couldn’t help to notice the similarities between the the practices of radical hospitality and the lunch program that I work with. While we only offer our program twice a week, we employ as many of the practices of hospitality and welcome. We start each day by giving each of our guest name tags which is “one of the simplest ways of communication welcome … learning their names quickly.” The other highly important form of hospitality, and the basis of our ministry, is to share a meal. We urge our all our volunteers to eat with the guest once the meal is served. While we are providing the basic necessity of food, we are striving to provide more, a place to build community and a sense of belonging. “In hospitality, the stranger is welcomed into a safe, personal, and comfortable place, a place of respect and acceptance and friendship. Even if only briefly, the stranger is included in a life-giving and life-sustaining network of relationships.” The last piece of radical hospitality we try to employ is to redefine the relationship between guest and volunteer. “Hospitality involves friendship as well as serving food.” We play the role of the church, and as such we strive to create mutual friendships instead of a social worker helping a client. “Because eating is something everyone must do, meal-time has a profoundly egalitarian dimension. Meal-time, when people sit down together, is the clearest time of being with others, not doing for others. It is the time when hospitality looks the least like social services.”
Pohl uses many biblical references to support the idea of radical hospitality. One in particular comes from the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan. “Jesus redefines neighbor and love for neighbor. The scope of our responsibility to care includes anyone in need. This expands more tightly bounded definitions of neighbor that tends to limit responsibility to those we like or those like us.” What would it look like if we took a Good Samaritan approach to issues of homelessness, immigration, and others pushed to the margins? How can we love our neighbors and refuse to offer them equal rights, allow them to go hungry and sleep on the street, and believe that they do not have a place in this world. Because, not only is each person we meet a representation of Christ, but our response also represents Christ in the world. “The response we give to an unexpected guest is connected to how that person experiences God’s love and welcome.”
Here are a few more quotes from Pohl’s book that I found helpful and intriguing:
“Without supper, without love, without table companionship, justice can become a program that we do to other people.” Murphy Davis, co-founder of the Open Door.
“When sanctuary and a slower pace are combined, there is a sense of peace.”
“Around a dinner table, family and guest share food and life.”
“The front door of the home is the side door of the church.”
“Generous and steady hospitality, practiced among believers from different backgrounds, can be the beginnings of significant reconciliation.”
“Church, like families, need to eat together to sustain their identity as a community. The table is central to the practice of hospitality in home and the church – nourishment we gain there is physical, spiritual and social. Whether we gather around the table for the Lord’s Supper or for a church potluck dinner, we are strengthened as a community.”
“It is in the shelter of each other the people live.” Irish proverb
And of course it wouldn’t be a blog about breaking bread without a new recipe. Today it is a fruit and rice salad. While this recipe can vary to your liking, here is what our lovely salad contained!
Beets, Beet Greens, Kale, Lettuce, Green Onions, Wild Rice, Strawberries, and Feta Cheese.
Start by cutting the greens off of the beets, wrapping the beets in tinfoil and baking them for 40 minutes at 350°F.
Remove the spine from the beet greens and kale, cut all the greens into smaller pieces and combine them together. Slice the strawberries and add them to the greens.
Cook wild rice according to packaging and add to salad.Next, once beets are finished cooking, peel skin, slice and quarter. But be careful, their messy and will stain your hands.
Add the feta and chill for one hour.
Again, any salad dressing will work but I like to make a balsamic dressing for this salad. Start with the juice of two lemons.
Combine 1/2 c. of olive oil.
Then add 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. of rice vinegar, and a dash of paprika. Shake and serve!
One of our new goals as a house is to have dinner at least twice a week together. We have chosen Friday nights to share our meal and share our week. Due to a long work week, we usually are full of energy and full of laughs. This week we enjoyed dinner outside, because it’s L.A. and always warm.
“Hospitality will be most satisfying for both host and guest when food is served.” — Joetta Handrich Schlaback