Toward a Seedy Advent Spirituality #3: Enough of Christmas or a Christmas of Enough!… On Gratitude and Giving (Part A.)
Among the queries of the Seeds Covenant we are asked, to whom are we offering and from whom are we receiving hospitality?
The spirituality of hospitality is based on the premise that, having being saved by the gracious hospitality of God we are invited and inspired to respond.
This is not just an abstract idea. Unexpected giving can be very powerful. I have felt and seen the fruit of extravagant giving in people’s lives. From the ratings grabbing, raw emotional power of a reality TV show conclusion such as Backyard Blitz, to some of the ways that people have blessed me at difficult times in my own life. Such moments of grace stand out to me as unforgettable and shape my consciousness about whether I live in a universe of scarcity or abundance.
The longer I have sought to give hospitality however the more I realise that it is never a given.
An extravagant one off gift made here and there is one thing, but maintaining hospitality in true solidarity, as basis for ones’ ongoing spirituality is not simple. Seeking to hold the tensions between scarcity and abundance, giving and receiving, unconditional love and justice, can be demanding and exhausting.
Hans Boersma challenges the notion that God is a tingling mass of open hospitality in his Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Re-appropriating the Atonement Tradition. He seeks to problemat-ise what we often see as hospitality and its limits in relation to the demands of justice. It’s a controversial and challenging read, the spirit of which is reviewed well here.
These issues are also touched on by Christine Pohl in her book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition which has been a staple for Seeds communities. Whilst emphasizing the spiritual benefits of entertaining angels. http://www.amazon.com/Making-Room-Recovering-Hospitality-Christian/dp/0802844316
Pohl does not gloss over the human toll involved in providing hospitality, and the enormous burden it often places on a few. She discusses openly the painful question of boundaries and limits in the practice of hospitality, and the need to maintain identity as well as openness to others.
Hospitality is never just the giving. What and how we receive in return does matter for the deeper, mutuality of human relationship that we are often seeking in our gift giving. For every story around the Seeds Network of someone entertaining angels or being ministered to powerfully by those they have sought to serve, there is the shadow story of another who feels tired, let down, exploited and so spiritually dry they have had to say Enough!
Toward a Seedy Advent Spirituality #3: Enough of Christmas or a Christmas of Enough!… On Gratitude and Giving (Part B) Christmas Hospitality : On Giving and Receiving: Frankinsense, Foot Spas and Fridge Kids!