Spiritual disciplines, normally taken to be individualistic disciplines, are given a new boost by Darryl Tippens in his new book, Pilgrim Heart. How so? Disciplines are also needed to promote an ecclesial spirituality — disciplines that create community. It is easy to say daily that we are to love others as ourselves; hospitality puts legs on love. Hospitality is the subject of the 4th chp. Now a story…
I’ve personally experienced Darryl’s and Anne’s hospitality. Thoughtful and artful is how I think of how they treated me. I entered their home as a stranger, I left as a friend. They created for me a “free and friendly space.” (And Darryl let me use his desk to use my computer.)
I’m not sure hospitality is very often seen as a spiritual discipline; I like the choice of this theme in a communal discipline. And I also really like the writing style of Darryl Tippens — he writes like an essayist instead of a lecturer; thematic exploration rather than detailed organization; sensual and aesthetic instead of flaying a topic like meat. Read him and you’ll be taken for a gentle walk with a line of thought.
What role does hospitality play in your local church? in your life? Stories? What are the problems you have found? Lessons?
Tippens ponders examples of hospitality, laws on hospitality, the teachings and praxis of Jesus, the examples of the early church and then his own experience of hospitality at the hands of Henri Nouwen.
Church historians, especially those smitten with the first few centuries, know the role hospitality played in the early churches — none quite so powerful as how early Christians risked their health to care for the sick and dying during plagues. Those sick and dying were more often than not pagans — not fellow Christians. The impact on society was dramatic. Some trace a major impulse in the growth of the Church to its hospitality.
Christian hospitality is “a kinship, friendship love extended to a stranger, someone not related or known to us” (55).
Tippens dips his pen into wisdom when he suggests the way to motivate others to hospitality is not by way of “blame and shame” but looking at Jesus’ example and learning from those who are hospitable.