“People who like interior design and dinner parties (and I freely admit that I am one of them) tend to conclude that they must therefore have been blessed with the gift of hospitality. But this is not necessarily the case. This is not the gift of hospitality. This is the gift of a box of chocolates.

Having (or aspiring to have) a nice house with an underused spare room in which to entertain exotic guests who confirm the loveliness of our homes has little to do with the deeply disruptive biblical notion of hospitality which starts in the heart (rather than the Ikea catalogue).

The Greek word for hospitality, φιλοξενία (filoxenia) literally means ‘friendship to strangers’. It‘s about sacrificial kindness to people who are… ‘strange’. To those we don’t know. Not to friends. The very word hospitality infers a hospital for the hurting, a hostel for those who are unwelcome and unloved elsewhere.

Henri Nouwen, the great Dutch priest who lived the last ten years of his life in community with those with profound Learning Disabilities, said that ‘the highest form of hospitality’ is a particular kind of listening. ‘Listening not to change people,’ he said, ‘but offering them space where change can take place.’

Above all, therefore, hospitality is an attitude of interruptible availability. It is a posture of radical presence. True hospitality must sometimes disrupt our schedules, hurt our feelings and yes, it must even mess up our precious, pristine privatized homes.

And when – once in a while – it comes with a box of chocolates – enjoy! You’ll have earned them for sure.”

This article is from a post by Pete Greig. You can find the original post here.