When I first wrote about mobile hospitality, I was thinking about how we can be hospitable, when we find ourselves, as Christians, in a public setting. Then, Covid-19 hit. Over the last two years, I’ve been thinking more about: How can we take food with us, and offer hospitality to those who don’t have much to eat.
First of all, I don’t think that practicing mobile hospitality necessarily means that we need to travel far. In the last couple of years, our lunch program at Holy Trinity has served lunches out on the front lawn as weather permits. Just being out on the lawn makes people more aware of the food that is available
Being a downtown parish, we have lots of people coming to our door looking for food. However, there are increasing numbers of people who are finding themselves isolated. People, who can’t get out to get the food they need. Just as importantly, people who don’t get the personal interaction they need.
Traditionally, the person receiving hospitality, generally a traveler, would offers stories of the outside world in exchange for food and shelter. Mobile hospitality reverses that. In mobile hospitality, food may be taken out, and the person receiving the food then is given the chance to offer their stories.
Also, mobile hospitality becomes a way for us to carry the Eucharist with us once we have left our gatherings. In some cases, we may even be able to take the Eucharist with us, through reserved sacrament.
Even if that doesn’t work, we can take the thanksgiving we celebrate during Eucharist, and offer it to the world around us.
I certainly don’t have all the answers to how we can take hospitality on the road. However, I do think it is a good way to demonstrate Christ’s love for the world.
I just finished Kendall Vanderslice’s, We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God. I’ll be writing a full review of it soon, but her exploration of various iterations of Dinner Church might be a good jumping off point for further discussions around mobile hospitality.
Original mobile hospitality thoughts
As I said at the beginning of this series, I’m not quite sure there is enough material here for a full 13 weeks of classes. This topic is definitely one where I’m a little skeptical on the whole idea of there being a full classes worth of material.
This is a second post on hospitality. What I’m trying to get at in this class, is not so much about getting people to come join us at the table, but rather taking the table with us as we go. In other words, making our lives a source of mobile hospitality.
Maybe the questions is better framed in terms of whether or not we are forming community as we go about our daily lives.
In general, people eat out more than ever now. Whether we eat out in groups or eat alone, we need to ask ourselves whether or not we are ever using those times to help create community with those around us who are also eating out.
Now, there are definitely times when we eat out that the focus needs to be inward. If you go for an anniversary dinner with your spouse, the focus of such a dinner is quite rightly on each other. Likewise, we don’t want to use the idea of focusing on others as an excuse for an eat and run gospel ambush “witnessing” encountered, followed by leaving a tract on their table. Also, while I feel it’s the wrong way of going about things, if you feel you must leave a tract for your server, please leave it underneath a generous tip.
Now, this whole idea of forming relationships works better if you have regular haunts, since relationships require time and frequency. If your desire is to visit every restaurant in the city at least once, you’re going to have a hard time forming relationships. However, if you have a regular place, you have a chance to form relationships. If relationship is at the heart of what the Christian faith is all about, relationships have to be at the heart of what we as Christians are all about.
True, there may be a limit to the depth a relationship with someone who does not view God in the same way we do, (although I think we are quick to limit the relationship before we find out the depth it can reach to). Yet, there is no reason to abandon a relationship just because it won’t be as deep as many others. Again, there are exceptions, but all too often we make the exceptions the rule. On the whole, I think we could do a better job of creating relationships when we eat out in public than we do.
Again, I welcome any comments. You can comment in the comment section below or send me a tweet @anglibubs