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A Different Type of Hospitality

In Luke 24 the tomb stands empty, the news of Jesus apparently rising from the dead has begun to spread but some are still uncertain of what has happened. A few of the disciples were walking to Emmaus and Jesus began walking with them but they were kept from recognising him. I was listening to Lectio 365* this morning and this is where they picked up:

In the wake of the crucifixion, the travellers are grieving, confused and discouraged. Jesus practices hospitality by listening deeply to them, holding space for the swirl of their emotions. He invites them to inhabit the biblical narrative, helping them make sense of what they have experienced and helps them find their place in the story. Later in their journey he receives their hospitality, shares a meal, and reveals his true nature to them. Peace – shalom – was with them.

I had never thought about deeply listening to someone as hospitality before. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hospitality as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers. Jesus did this without cooking a meal or even inviting the disciples into a house or home. He simply asked them “What are you talking about?” And listened deeply to their answer.

In his listening Jesus wasn’t only listening to the disciples but he also had an ear turned to God and what God wanted to reveal to these two disciples. In The Passion Translation of the Bible it says Then he carefullly unveiled to them the revelation of himself throughout the scripture. He started from the beginning and explained… Jesus didn’t problem solve. He didn’t gloss over the issue. He didn’t cheer them up and instantly make them feel better. He listened to them, and to God, and through him God was revealed.  

Jesus was friendly and generous and welcomed the disciples with his listening and with his gentle words. He didn’t shoo them away or rebuke them for being slow to understand. OK, he didn’t welcome them into a house and cook physical food for them but he fed them with an everlasting bread that would satisfy long after their bellies had emptied. He gave them water to drink from a fountain that never dries up and always refreshes. Jesus gave them hospitality that would have a lifelong effect, and he didn’t even turn the oven on!

If you think you don’t have the gift of hospitality because your roast dinner isn’t up to scratch – think again! If you feel that your soggy pastry or lack of dining room will hinder your ability to show hospitality, here is your challenge:

Hospitality doesn’t require food. And right now the world is full of people in the midst of grief, confusion  and discouragement. It feels like everyone is experiencing a huge swirl of emotions. 

If it’s good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for us…let’s choose to put our phones down/turn them on silent and really listen to that friend we have gone for coffee with. Let’s turn our TV off and listen deeply to our children as they tell us about their day. Let’s stop multitasking and actually give our spouse 100% of our attention and who knows?? Maybe God will even be revealed through it all!!

* Lectio 365 is an app made by the 24-7 Prayer movement. It’s aim is to help people engage with scripture, fix their eyes on Jesus and connect with God in prayer each day.

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