"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2
It has been almost four weeks since I got to England and settled into the Tsedaqah House, a three story victorian style, next to the Liverpool Cathedral. The views are immense. Out my front door I can see the great cathedral building that I feel in awe of every day and to the back, I can see down to Albert Dock and the Mersey River. The house itself is very cozy and Emily Bethany (a Canadian housemate) and I have done well to make it feel more like home.
You may have been caught off guard by that funny name for my house, Tsedaqah. A more common transliteration is "Tzedakah" (ze-DAH-ka) but nevertheless, its literal translation is "to do justice" but is more commonly associated with the Jewish concept of charity. Since I am neither a Jew or a scholar of the Jewish faith I don't think I can accurately explain what this concept means in Jewish faith but if you are interested I think this might be a safe place to start.But back to the story of my house, the house has four bedrooms and one room that is very small and more like an office? or maybe just a really large closet that will soon have a twin (or single as they say here) bed in it. Emily and I both sleep on the second floor with fairly large sized rooms. Bethany is on the third in a smaller room but it has an epic view of the docks and most importantly there is a large bedroom with an ensuite bathroom which serves as a guest room for various guests of the Liverpool Cathedral or Liverpool Diocese. (The small office/closet room will be available as well but so that if we have friends visit there is a room for them.
Being an innkeeper extraordinaire has been a cool experience so far. I have learned new skills like towel origami. I have so far mastered dogs and swans as pictured below:
But aside from my goofy and cheesy towel art, I have been considering what being hospitable means and how to engage in hospitality with those I do not know. How often have I invited someone to stay with me or eat with me who I did not know much about? These are scary things and in part, they are scary because as a society we are continually reminded of people who wish to do others harm in every true murder show (Dateline, First 48, Investigation Discovery) and local news report. While surely there are people like that in the world today, there were also people like that in the days of Jesus. I mean the Good Samaritan story is pretty graphic and yet the call is not to be hospitable to those you know. No, it's "do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers" or Romans 12:13 "Contribute to the needs of the Saints, extend hospitality to strangers." There are others but these are my favorite because they seem the most direct.
If we, as Christians, hold to the idea that living our faith is what we are called to do, then we must also acknowledge that sometimes it will have to be a vulnerable and courageous thing to do. It will have to involve some personal risk, discomfort, and perhaps even rejection. I wish to see in myself and also in others more last minute invites to dinner, regardless of the "state of one's home." More "crappy dinner parties" but with a mix of those strong hold friends and those people, you wouldn't normally invite. Or maybe you just put out an invite on social media that you'll be having dinner and if people are interested in coming they should feel free. (There is a man studying to be a priest here who does this every week, oh and he has a family of 3 children. They fed 28 people last Monday) Find some goal of hospitality that works for you but work towards being more hospitable because there is so much joy in that.
I have not mastered the art of hospitality, I often think I have just begun even understand what it is but what a joy to learn something new. What a joy to experience all sorts of people God has sent and what a joy to be someone invited to the table.