I am still on a journey learning about brave hospitality. That is what you will read from me in this space. I will write about my journey toward brave hospitality — what it really means and how to live.
It did not take me long to discover in Greek, the original New Testament language, hospitality takes on a much deeper meaning than entertaining with white twinkle lights, immaculate table-scapes, delicately prepared gourmet foods and Pinterest-worthy images.
Nothing is wrong with those things, and I swoon over seeing those dreamy images with the rest of you. But if we land there in our journey while trying to pursue brave hospitality, we have fallen short. If we make it our aim we may find ourselves disappointed in ourselves for not being able to recreate someone else’s staging.
The English translated word hospitality comes from the Greek word philoxenia. When broken down, philoxenia means to show a stranger love as if the stranger were your own brother. To show love to a stranger, someone in need, or even your enemy just like you would a loved one in your family.
A greater understanding of the deeper meaning of brave hospitably came as I read aloud to my son. The book is about a young Irish girl named Bree who was captured to be enslaved by Vikings.
Bree’s brother Devin was also captured, but he escaped the Vikings. He is trying to make his way home. It is an arduous journey and Devin has to rely on help from strangers. On his way with Jeremy, a younger boy who also escaped, it begins to grow dark and they need a safe place to sleep. We find him at the threshold of a cottage:
Standing at the door, he called out, “God bless all here!” The woman of the house turned from stirring the kettle. “A hundred thousand welcomes!” Her cheeks were rosy from the heat of the fire, her smile as warm as anyone could give. “Come join us,” she invited. “I’ve plenty to eat for a tall lad like you. And you also,” she added, as Jeremy stepped out from behind Devin. “Run, run,” she told one of her boys. “Get water so they can wash.” When they came to the table, Master O’Neill gave Devin the place of honor and offered the blessing.
The child that had drawn Devin in was seated next to him. The boy’s hand moved steadily from bowl to mouth, but he watched Devin without blinking. For Devin the fish on his plate, the brown Irish bread, and the mug of milk was a meal for a king. As he dipped his bread in a bowl of honey, he did all he could to remember his manners. He wanted only to snatch up every bit of food on the table. Then, as he looked around, Devin knew the O’Neills had given him much more than food. For the first time since the Viking raid, Devin felt the warmth of a home— of parents who cared for their children and gathered them around to talk and eat. (Raiders from the Sea, by Lois Walfrid Johnson)
Devin felt the warmth of home, food, and family.
Devin, a stranger, was welcomed into a safe and comfortable place where he was shown respect and acceptance. This part of the book stayed with me because this kind of hospitality is a beautiful thing, yet a foreign thing. It is something I long for, and something I long to do.
Of course it looks different for us in this century and this side of the world. But, I wonder how much different?