theology, hospitality, Irigaray (article in L’Esprit Créateur)

Click the link for my article, published in the French Studies journal L’Esprit Créateur.


becoming a guest

I have followed Arthur Sutherland’s description of the identity of Lydia (from I was a stranger: a Christian theology of hospitality) in this sermon.


This morning we are talking about hospitality – and as we get going I’m going to say something that might seem odd at first. It is this: It’s easier to be a host than to be a guest. It is easier to be a host than to be a guest. We tend to think that it’s the other way around. We tend to think it’s easier to be a guest. After all, the host has to do all the work. The host has to prepare the meal. The host has to make the guests feel at home. The host has to make sure that house is clean, the coffee hot, the bed comfortable. All the guest has to do is show up – eat, drink, sleep, have a conversation. After a visit, guests go on their way, leaving the cleanup to the host.

Of course there is some work involved in being a host. It’s not necessarily easy to create a welcoming space and experience. It takes work to attend to the needs of a guest.

But it’s still easier to be the host than to be the guest. Why? Let’s try a one-word answer. Power. The one who welcomes another into his or her home has almost all the power.  “Come in, come in, make yourself at home, within my space, my territory.” The host is completely at home in the space to which the other is invited. The host gets to decide who is invited as guest, in the first place. The host can determine what is on the menu. The host determines what provisions will be made for the guest. Continue reading

Hospitality and Family

A sermon preached this past Sunday – which we marked as Christian Family Sunday.


Have you ever been on the receiving end of hospitality?  Can you remember a moment when you were a stranger – yet you were welcomed without reserve by another? Perhaps given a meal to eat, a place to sleep, a space to make your own if only for a couple of days.  Perhaps you were put out of your house for some reason, perhaps you were traveling far from home, perhaps you were close to home but just needed the welcome embrace of another. Many of us here this morning, I’m sure, have at one time or another been on the receiving end of such a wonderful hospitality. 

A simple example. While I was attending Regent College in Vancouver I was part of a college community group that was invited to the island home and farm of a professor – for a weekend retreat. He was someone most of us hard barely gotten to know. But on that retreat we were given a place to unfurl our sleeping bags, we dined on fresh pacific salmon, we made and shared in home-made ice-cream together. For just a couple of days we were welcomed and made at home and given a place.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines hospitality as ‘the reception and entertainment of guests or strangers with liberality and goodwill.’  The reception and entertainment of guests or strangers with liberality and goodwill.  The Dictionary also describes a hospitable person as being ‘disposed to receive or welcome kindly, as being open and generous in disposition.’  Hospitality – welcoming others, inviting strangers in with liberality and good will, with a generosity of spirit.  Sharing our space, sharing our table, sharing our home, and sharing our lives with others. 

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