On Hospitality and Fried Chicken

Last night, we had about 30 students come to WF… not too shabby. We hit the ground running by introducing our theme ‘Get Up, Stand Up’: Practicing Faith in a Broken World by talking about hospitality. Yes– the icebreakers we played were, all in all, pretty cheesy. Especially the birthday game at the 6:00 study. But there were reasons for those games, chief among them being to cover the basics in hospitality: getting to know one another and, in some instances, getting to know a complete stranger. It was awesome seeing some new faces here last night and we hope you come back… bring your friends! It takes a lot of courage to walk in new places when you may or may not know a soul. And it was cool seeing some of the WF vets venturing out of their own comfort zones to meet new folks.

It’s not like hospitality is the easiest thing in the world. I mean, what is it about meeting new people that can make us so dang uncomfortable? After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Come to think of it, though, that probably has everything to do with it… it’s the absolute unknown, the fact that we’re out of control, even for a little bit, that can make it awkward and strange. But here’s the thing… I guarantee you that it goes both ways. You think I, the campus minister, have it together when it comes to this? Whatever… I find myself thinking the same, weird thoughts when I’m trying to be hospitable: “Do I have something in my teeth” or “Does this person have any idea what I’m talking about” or “Will this/these people completely take me to town after I’ve left”. If you think hospitality or meeting new people or opening your life to somebody completely new or different is difficult only for you… think again. We all go through it somehow. It’s a vulnerable act, a moment when it’s like, “This is who I am! Hooray!” and you’re not sure if you’ll be accepted. You’re offering yourself, not knowing what will follow.

I wonder, then, if it was easy for Jesus to be hospitable. For crying out loud, the dude ate (fried chicken perhaps?) with some pretty marginalized folks: prostitutes, tax collectors, homeless people, smelly men and women. I wonder if he was ever like, “I’m not feeling this. Hey Peter, you and the fellas want to go bowling?” Probably not, I guess, being that he was perfect and all. But I find myself wondering how he did it… all the time… without really caring what others thought. “I’m here to be with the sick. They’re the ones who need a doctor.” It’s like he was saying, “Y’all can say what you want. These are my people, these people you insult and stay away from and look at like they’re mutants. These are my people… and so are you.”

Hospitality ain’t easy. But if we really believe in this carpenter from Nazareth who loved eating with outsiders, then we have to follow him. We have to hang out with people from Tuscaloosa or wherever who are different than we and love them without condition. And we have to get in the kitchen and fry up some chicken because, apparently, it’s the official food of hospitality. So eat up…

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~ by presbytide on August 26, 2008.

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