Who or what is a stranger? In this chapter (5) Pohl defines "stranger" and then helps us understand different kinds of strangers. The chapter is a beautifully written piece that calls us to consider all types of outsiders and in that understanding, to begin to break down the magnitude of risk and vulnerability that keeps so many of us paralyzed when we think about becoming hosts... welcoming strangers.
The best part of the chapter, for me (Chrissy), is on the last page when Pohl reminds us that as we practice hospitality, we may start small, but our embrace of others will grow wider and wider. We don't have to do the hardest thing first! But we do need to do something soon!
What will you do?
How's everyone enjoying the book / study guide / podcast so far? We've been hearing from a few of you and are so encouraged by your thoughts and comments - Keep them coming!
This week is one of the best so far... in my opinion. Pohl gets into some really interesting content about hospitality as resistance. In this fourth chapter of the book She explains the importance of recognition, resect, and dignity as critical components of hospitality as a spiritual practice rather than an act of charity. The chapter really gets good in the second half when Pohl names the "tensions" within the practice. Some of those are things like: hospitality and human rights, hospitality and the deserving/undeserving, hospitality and security, and the problems with associating hospitality with belief.
This chapter was so good that we just couldn't stop talking about it (which is why this episode is nearly 57 minutes long!). At the end, we find ourselves wrestling with questions like these:
1- What are some of the barriers that are currently in place that keep some populations invisible?
2- What is the difference between helping people and sharing our lives with them?
3- What do meals mean in your household? In your church?
4- How do you feel about encountering God and knowing that you will be held accountable for the ways you have responded to strangers?
Listen in as we discuss this chapter; and don't forget to tell us what you're thinking as you participate in the study!
This second week of Advent and Making Room, we are exploring the history of hospitality. What was it in the ancient world, when/how did it change, and what was lost in the transitions?
In the second chapter of the full book, Pohl walks us through the spiritual and moral dimensions of hospitality in Christian history. She reminds us throughout the chapter to remember that Christian hospitality is counter-cultural because it transgresses lines of social and economic class. Rather than being host to friends, family, or people you aspire to befriend, the Christian host opens her doors to those who can never repay the favor. It is non-transactional. We see this play out in the life and ministry of Jesus who was always inviting to the table those who did not belong. Whether he was at the party as guest or host, Jesus made sure that those on the margins of society were invited guests to the proverbial (and literal) banquet tables of his time.
Interestingly Pohl links this subversive behavior of Jesus to the incarnation of Christ as servant. God makes God's own self human as a servant, transcending all boundaries that existed between the divine and human, and in so doing, God becomes flesh as an outsider, a refugee, a child of questionable birth, a stranger. Because God has come into the world in such a way, and because Jesus modeled for us how to host the stranger, the outsider, the one who did not belong... it is our moral obligation and our Christian response to go and do likewise.
In the ancient world, this bold hospitality was practiced widely among Christians. The faith depended upon it. The lines between church and home were nothing like they are today and the proliferation of the Gospel often happened around hosts' tables. As people gathered to eat, relationships were forged, and the Good News of God's work of inclusion and welcome spread. But overtime, the church began to take on its own life outside of private homes. In addition, the commercialization of hotels, hospitals, etc. meant that in-home hospitality of strangers and travelers became less and less common. Household structures also changed and became smaller as each generation sought independence. With more adults are working, fewer generations under one roof, and more children are in school, most homes went from being bustling centers of family life, to structures that remain empty most of the time. These shifts are only a few of those outlined by Pohl in chapters 2 and 3!
With all this change, it's no wonder the art of Christian hospitality has been lost along the way. So how might we begin to recover it?
Listen in as we work our way through these two jam-packed chapters and begin to think (out loud) about the possibility of recovering the lost art of Christian hospitality.
This Sunday we enter the season of Advent. This Sunday, we also kick off the study of Dr. Christine Pohl's book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. I am thrilled that the church is providing the Study Guides to this book for FREE to all who want to participate in this 8-week study (while supplies last)! Get your copy at the Welcome Desk on Sunday mornings or by contacting Caroline in the church office during the week. The study guides are awesome because they help us think deeply about the spiritual practice of hospitality as we process the content in the longer book.
There are two ways you can access the content of the longer book:
1 - Buy (or check-out) the book. Making Room, by Christine Pohl. It's available on online and in the public library.
2 - Listen to the podcasts
3 - Both!
In the podcasts, we will talk through the content of each chapter and highlight some of the more significant (in our opinion) questions that each chapter raises for us as we work through the material.
As you follow along in the study guides, read through the questions and spend time with each one. You might want to read the scripture for each chapter every day of the week and then really sit with one of the questions for the whole day. Go slow! This is a really big topic that is absolutely counter-cultural. So if you take your time with the questions, you stand to experience profound spiritual growth as you work through the book.
We think all podcasts and blogs are better when there are comments. I know it's a little scary to write out your soul and post it online for the whole world to see. But, I look at our viewership and I can promise you, the whole world is not reading the blog. More seriously, almost 100% of the time, you're not along in your thoughts, vulnerability or questions. Your courage to post might inspire someone else who is participating in the study to share her/his thoughts as well. And every post makes the experience better for everyone!
All that being said, here's episode 1. In this episode we break down the content from the first chapter and consider the ways that the evolution of our culture has shaped our understanding of hospitality. And, we look at the chasm that exists between cultural hospitality (i.e. the hospitality industry) and the ancient spiritual practice of Christian hospitality.
As we wrap up our study of Our God is Undocumented we find ourselves in the tension between the false stories we'd like to believe, our lived experience, and the true stories that are often more complex and difficult to understand. Standing between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we explore some of the false narratives that circulate during the holidays and how the practice of hospitality might be the key to helping us connect with deeper truth.
It sure is sad to see this book come to an end! But we're eager to pick back up with our 8-week (Advent and Epiphany) study of Christine Pohl's book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition.
This episode is all about purity. Which is why we chose an amazing piece of music to jump start our conversation. In the book, Ched walks us through purity codes in the Gospels and helps us to see how Jesus chose to interact within his historical context. Reading Ched's exegesis quickly turns our focus to purity codes that exist in our own cultural/ social/ historical context(s).
What are the purity codes that are present in your life? How and when do they show up? Do they determine how you live? Who you spend time with? How you make your decisions?
Listen in and let us know what you think!
We kick this episode off with another throwback-to-youth-minsitry tune by Audio Adrenaline, Big House, because these chapters (5 and 6) are all about God's expansion of human concepts of inclusion and exclusion. In chapter 5, Ched helps us understand that there's even disagreement in the Bible about who should be allowed in the house of God; there has always been tension between "faithful covenant-keeping" and "self-righteous gate-keeping," (p.105). In the episode we explore some moments in our own lives where we've had to stand in that tension between "purity"/"dignity" and God's call to welcome all outsiders. In the next chapter, by Matthew Colwell, we meet Amalia Molina. Her moving story calls us to consider how we are participating in the expanding love of God, even in our most difficult and challenging moments.
Enjoy the episode! Send us your thoughts, we'd love to know how these stories are making an impact on your lives!
In this episode we encounter stories that are difficult to read. From the Genesis call to protect the murderer, to the Judges account of the concubine who clings to the threshold as she takes her last breath, and finally to the heart-breaking (and yet inspiring) tale of Amalia and Gil... these two chapters were so difficult to read (and discuss) that they reminded us of our journey through Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy.
As disturbing as these stories are, we felt responsible to hold them up and to sit in the discomfort for a while, knowing that we live in homes and worship in a sanctuary with many "thresholds". These chapters force us to reckon with questions like: Who is on the other side of our thresholds? Whose bodies do we blindly and ignorantly step over each day as we go about our lives with blinders on? And, How might we begin to open those physical and metaphorical doors to welcome and love those who we find on the outside?
Listen in... it's rough, I'm warning you. We'd love to know what you think!
DC Talk kicks off our second conversation about Our God is Undocumented, with their brilliant song "Colored People". After spending some time reflecting on our memories of youth group and DC Talk, Ben and I delve into the first two chapters: (1) Cultural Diversity and Deep Social Ecology and (2) Journey to the Margins: Delle McCormick.
In this episode we talk about two well-known biblical stories: the Tower of Babel and Pentecost. And then, we'll hold up the themes from those texts along with the story of Delle McCormick's life. Finally, we wrap up the conversation by turning our attention toward you (and/or us).
Who are we (individually or collectively)? Who is God calling us to be? Where is God calling us to be? And how are we (individually or collectively) pushed and pulled by the centrifugal and centripetal forces of empire and Spirit?
Listen in and add your thoughts in the comments section!
On the day of Tom Petty's death, Ben and I recorded this podcast episode, which begins with his song, "Refugee." We didn't know that he'd had a heart attack; but his was the first "immigrant" song that came to mind. You'll hear us mention that in our opening comments on the episode. RIP Tom, thanks for helping us kick this off with your amazing music.
In this introductory podcast about the book, Our God is Undocumented, we discuss the authors and the major questions that the book calls us to reflect upon. How does the Bible speak to issues of immigration and boundless welcome? How is God Undocumented? What does it mean to be a church without borders?
(Please forgive the shameless plug for Miguel De La Torre... we were experiencing technical difficulties earlier this month which prohibited us from posting when we'd planned to post.)
Listen in for our thoughts. Please remember to share yours in the comments section!