Anyone who has the cleverness to write a book on hospitality called Making Room gets my vote for a good title, and also gets my attention. And, because I’m working a bit right now on table fellowship, I read through Christine Pohl’s book. It’s a good one.
The big questions this book raises for me are these: How much hospitality are we showing? How does our local community of faith show hospitality? And, here’s one we don’t ask very often, just what is hospitality anyway?
This might surprise you: hospitality is not what it used to be. We could get picky and all technical here but, after this one picky point, I’ll drop it: hospitality traditionally is offering food and lodging and protection and concern for strangers. Today — and correct me if I’m wrong — hospitality has almost entirely been assigned to being kind to our friends and fellow followers of Jesus by opening our home to them. Well, the former is what the term meant to the early church.
The loaded value of Christine Pohl’s book for me is that she charts out, but not at all too technically, the changing face of hospitality over time. From the time of Jesus where hospitality was shown in homes — where “inns” and “hotels” were uncommon — to the time of the early Christians showing hospitality through the bishop’s home and growing buildings to the modern day where the older function of hospitality is found in hotels and social services.
Themes in this book: how hospitality gives the power of recognition, the strangers in our midst, hospitality from the margins … and then Christine examines all kinds of practical issues about hospitality.
This book has plenty of modern stuff, too; lots of examples of communities today that are especially hospitable; and she is urging Christians to show hospitality.
After all, the foundational text for this theme is a parable of Jesus that basically said our practice of hospitality will shape the final judgment.