[This week's midweek blog comes from our new pastoral intern, Scott Litwiller.]
Providing hospitality is one of my favorite spiritual disciplines. Cooking and preparing a meal allows me the opportunity to pause and meditate on, or pray for, those who are coming for dinner. Once they have arrived, I am able to show my love and care by serving the meal, pouring a drink, or pulling up another chair. Providing hospitality allows me to retain an amount of control and to know what to expect. Receiving hospitality, however, has been a learning curve.
Thinking of receiving hospitality reminds me of the passage in John 13 where Jesus attempts to wash Peter’s feet. Peter is uncomfortable and would prefer to offer Jesus hospitality. When Jesus insists, Peter goes over the top to awkwardly show just how willing he is to receive Jesus’ hospitality by asking to have his whole body washed. My youth pastor growing up often compared me to Peter. She highlighted me excitedly agreeing to things without knowing the full context and leaping out of boats on faith alone that there was something to catch me. I also find myself getting very awkward while accepting hospitality.
The last few weeks I have been a guest in someone else’s home and church. During this time of transition after seminary I have spent significant time in six states, which has meant relying on the generous hospitality of others as I wait to find out what comes next for me. Similarly, as a queer person, I have sometimes felt out of place in my own denomination. Although it is my home, I have been made to feel out of place. Not quite a guest, but the cousin not everyone wants to talk to. This makes being here through the Mennonite seminary, interning with a (very-soon-to-be) ordained, queer pastor all the more special. I am also being graciously hosted by the Massey’s in their beautiful home and attempting to graciously, though sometimes awkwardly accept their hospitality.
Holding the space of both guest/intern and host/pastoral person is interesting. Even so, what a gift it is to be able to both give and receive. Opening doors, preparing meals, and pulling up chairs is a gift to give. It has also been a gift to walk through those doors, eat those meals, and sit in the chairs that have been provided. Hopefully, I will be able to extend that same hospitality to those who arrive after me.