Servant’s Heart — from the desk of a deacon
I have been thinking about the kind of hospitality that someone who is called to the Diaconate needs to offer to those with whom we work. My work as a Deacon compels me to ask what we are doing about being welcoming and hospitable to those we consider to be “other.” My thoughts took me to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 14, and Jesus’ reminder to the people gathered at the banquet, and to us, that they ought to be inviting to their meals the outcast, the poor, the sick, the socially undesirable, and more.
The important thing to remember is that Jesus means what He says here. Jesus whole life is centred on inviting, into the presence of God, those who neither expect nor perhaps even deserve such an invitation. Even more important, we are expected to do the same kind of inviting to our dinner tables, either figuratively or actually. We are expected to stop counting the costs, benefits and possible rewards of our actions and live from a sense of abundance and blessing, sharing both with the others to whom we might not normally give the time, or with whom we might not normally break bread.
We are being invited to look into our hearts, to stop worrying about what this all might look like to anyone else, and to start giving and to start blessing unconditionally. Jesus particularly focused on social relationships. So, we need to look at what it would be like to live into a freedom where we stop calculating our social prestige, stop worrying about what others think, and simply be gentle and generous to everyone around us. I am thinking particularly about being open-handed to those who are not often the recipients of kindness, and generosity. What would it look like at work, at the places we volunteer or play sports or socialize; to look out for those who seem at the margins? What would it look like to invite them into the centre of our circles of hospitality?
I hear an invitation, from our Lord, to experience the joy of playing “God’s helper” in handing out the abundant gifts of dignity, worth and value with which we have all been blessed. We need to embrace the fact that God’s kingdom is not a kingdom of scarcity. It is one of abundance, where everyone is already welcome, already loved, and already cherished. The currency of God’s kingdom is humility, not arrogance; generosity, not stinginess; hospitality, not fear.
We must understand that our behaviour at the table matters, because it does indeed matter. Where we sit at the table speaks volumes and the people whom we choose to welcome, reveals the stuff of our souls.
This is God’s world in which we live, nothing here is ordinary. Nothing here is the way all the advertising and spin doctors would have us believe. In this realm, the strangers at our doorstep are the angels. And our offers of hospitality and welcome to the marginalized are necessary and needed.