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Teaching as Hospitality

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 8:57 pm    Post subject: Teaching as Hospitality Reply with quote

Hospitality among desert tribes in the Middle East is legendary. In a moment you can be transformed from anxious stranger to honored guest. After a simple greeting of “peace” you step across the threshold of a goat-hair tent and become a virtual member of your Bedouin host’s family. The desert welcome continues with a handshake, a gesture to sit near the smoking fire, and an offer of tea. No business is transacted until hospitality has been extended and received. Regardless of the visit’s purpose, you will first settle into the relationship. The conversation, like the endless cups of tea, expresses a transparent and almost embarrassing effort to serve their new friends. What most outsiders often don’t fully realize is that being a guest in a Bedouin tent carries an unspoken guarantee that your needs will be met. The refreshments before you are only a symbolic token of this guarantee.

God is pictured as a shepherd host in Psalm 23. In the hostile desert he “prepares a table before me” (v. 5). Throughout Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness God daily prepared such a table. The bread that he served up each day was the “bread of angels” (Ps. 78:19-25). But Israel’s host knew that his people needed more than physical bread. “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna…to teach you that people do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3 TNIV). The Good Shepherd was a host whose physical provision was an appetizer for spiritual sustenance.

The sense that teaching is an expression of hospitality has taken hold among my colleagues and students at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Charlotte. Eating physical food together is a common and natural expression of our fellowship, especially during our intensive modules. But feasting on God’s word – and considering its implications for life and ministry – this is the primary meal. That is why people drive and fly in from such great distances to be together. Reflecting on this past weekend with my biblical theology students, I felt as though we had camped together in the wilderness with our divine host. To teach was to serve up the “bread of angels” and enjoy it together as his family. Prospective students attending Discover Day joined our biblical feast for a segment of the morning’s class.

Then we sat down for lunch.

May the Good Shepherd feed your soul as you seek to feed his flock.
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Joined: 02 Jul 2012
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Location: United States

PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:03 pm    Post subject: Good hospitality Reply with quote

I find THIS concept very interesting! At Family Promise we call our shelter program the interfaith hospitality network. It is a network of congregations that provides shelter, meals, and friendship to homeless families. Hospitality is indeed a valuable resource in our culture. People don't really take time to take care of each other. Hospitality is a powerful force for bringing wholeness to broken people. Many families in our program find homes, employment, friendship and hope through true hospitality. Wow!
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