Life-Giving Hospitality

Life-Giving Hospitality

Hello, This is pastor Joshua Jefferson from Sunnyside Mennonite Church. In the book of Job, chapter 38, verses 8 and 9, I notice that God is asking us an interesting question: “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds it’s garment and wrapped it in thick darkness?”

What a powerful picture! The skies are wrapped up in a thick darkness and the oceans are bursting forth like a child from a mother’s womb. The Bible tells us that all things live and move and have their being in God, just as we all once lived and moved and had our being in our mother’s womb. God is not just the creator but also the container of life. Just as a mother carries a life in her womb that is different than her and yet dependent on her for everything, God holds all things together in this personal expression of hospitality.

This picture becomes even more powerful when you think about the child who burst forth from the womb. In the life of Jesus, the hospitality of God took on flesh and blood. The welcome of creation became a welcome of salvation. The soul of shame is clothed with beauty, and broken hearts are anointed with the oil of joy.  In the same way, followers of Jesus are called to continue this practice of hospitality by inviting those who cannot repay us, and believing that he will repay us. We too are called to be bursting forth from the womb of God.

For the first ten years of our marriage, my wife and I hosted a hangout every thursday night in our kitchen. We hardly ever felt like we had enough energy or that our home was as nice as it should be. We also didn’t have much to offer, usually just a pot of tea and some conversation. Sometimes our guests were hard for us to relate to. But right there at our own table, my wife and I began to experience the hospitality of God to ourselves. Sometimes this blessing was tangible like a plate of cookies or a new teacup. Other times, intangible like a beautiful poem or a hearty laugh.

Bursting forth from the womb is as messy as it sounds. It will complicate your schedule and risk your reputation. But it is right there in your place of unpreparedness, with the people who cannot repay you, where you can participate in the warm welcome of God, and where you can also experience for yourself in a practical way what it means to be created for Him.