I have never continue a post and created a second part, but I have been thinking a lot about the hospitality and the community of faith than I have a need to keep writing. In the last post I shared with you about the experience I had in a new community; I shared how I went from the lobby to the auditorium, from being friendly greeted to left alone. is it possible to reverse these places? From the lobby to enter into a continuous lobby. From friendly to a continuous friendly place. Henry Nouwen shared this experience:
During a visit in Mexico, sitting on a bench in one of the village plazas, I saw how much larger the family of the children was. They were hugged, kissed and carried around by aunts, uncles, friends and neighbours, and it seemed that the whole community spending its evening playfull in the plaza became father and mother for the little ones. Their affection, and their fearless movements made me aware that for them everyone was family. The church is perhaps one of the few places left where we meet people who are different than we are but whom we can form a larger family (Reaching out by Henry Nouwen)
Honestly I have never been in a larger church or community of faith where the hospitality was the main goal. Most of my experiences have been great in enjoying the great music, excellent teaching and an awesome media, but hospitality is something we left aside for those who have become part of the fellowship of participants. The issue is creating spaces where the stranger is welcomed, cared and nurtured, and leave as a friend, just as it will happened when I invite new people to my house. I never understood this until I traveled to the easter side of the world: Tunisia.In the streets of one of the cities we met a young lady and five minutes later she was already inviting us to have dinner at her house. When we arrived the table( well the cloth table on the floor) was full of wonderful and delicious meals; her parents welcomed us with so much love and the whole night was all about us. I entered that house as a stranger but I left as a friend. I think we have lost that sense of hospitality in the western world, may be we have never lived it and because of this we do not even know what is true hospitality. We think is welcoming people with a cup of coffee and some information about us, we think is creating a cool places with great signs and an awesome children program, we think is about dressing casual or having an amazing choirs who can sing the highest notes or the most wonderful hymns. But real hospitality is not about creating surroundings, it starts within us. Yes! with the realization that we are human beings in a “world full of strangers, estranged from their own past, culture, and country, from their neighbors, friends, and family, from the deepest self and their God, we witness a painful search for hospitable place and where s where life can be lived without fear and where community can be found” (Reaching Out)
Please share with me your thoughts about this matter, is it possible? or am i a true dreamer?…..for one thing I know it can be done we just need to learn from the Jews, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim communities the meaning of friendship and brotherhood.
Note: for the participants of Annual Conference 2009, did you left the place experiencing real hospitality?