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Entertaining Angels? 18 March 2017

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Lent, Life, Ponderings.
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Last night, as a bit of a treat, my Good Lady Wife and I went out to supper at our favoured (& flavoured?) Indian restaurant. We know the menu well, and since we regularly have take-aways from there, I know the staff pretty well too. There we sat, I with my back to the room, and my wife with the view of the other diners, and my eyes were drawn to a sign close to hand, just outside the kitchen “If you have any special dietary needs or allergies, please speak to the hospitality team.”

It struck me that I’d never quite seen it put that way before. Not ‘the staff’ or ‘your waiter’, but ‘the hospitality team.’

Hospitality.

Another word with a legacy stemming from the Christian faith (and maybe older, but I’m not sure, and come at this as a Christian minister!) It includes the word hospital, the place where the sick come for healing, even though in the monastic tradition hospitality was what was offered to travelers. As the anonymous writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews puts it  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2). Abrahan and angelsAs if that wasn’t a big enough incentive for the monastic community, and Christians in general there’s a slightly more pointed reason too in a piece sometimes known as the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Back again to the maxim about treating others as you’d wish to be treated, with an eternal spin.

I suspect that some of my friends and readers would argue that they don’t need to be frightened into ethical behaviour, (‘virtue is its own reward’)  to which I’d say that I agree with you insofar as I don’t think the parable is necessarily to frighten as to provoke thought (even without a discussion about where our norms for ethical behaviour might come from). Surely the deeper issue here is that faith should result in some sort of practical response that goes beyond lip service. As such it remains a challenge for me, my thoughts and my actions, and maybe encourages me to open my eyes to an awareness of the divine in the daily, the almighty in the everyday.

And I undertook to blog every day. Not necessarily to make huge amounts of sense, or to win the world to faith in Christ, in My Boss, Jesus! All I’ll note as a passing comment is that over the years the language of offering hospitality, like so many things, seems to have slipped from being about service to others motivated by love and faith to service to others in terms of a marketable transaction, from charity to commodity.

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