It is indeed the paradox of hospitality that poverty makes a good host. Poverty is the inner disposition that allows us to take away our defenses and convert our enemies into friends. We can only perceive the stranger as an enemy as long as we have something to defend. But when we say, ‘Please enter—my house is your house, my joy is your joy, my sadness is your sadness, and my life is your life,’ we have nothing to defend, since we have nothing to lose but all to give.”~Henri Nouwen, Show Me the Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent
We never run out of things to talk about, my High Calling friends and I, and being together is a large part of why I drive four hours through the snow every year to attend the Jubilee conference. I never knew one could grow to love a people through the mysterious airspace of the online world but it’s happened to me, so when we have a chance to be together in the flesh it makes me happy. I’m not one who talks easy with others, never having learned that fine art, and being in large groups of people can make me uneasy, tired. But I have attended Jubilee long enough to have a sense of familiarity and adopt an air of deep affection for the usual suspects involved. Though I still tend to hang back and observe, each year I have felt more comfortable extending my hand to others, so in about ten years I should feel completely at home.
This year at Jubilee the theme was “this changes EVERYTHING.” The speakers talked about how the Gospel changes our lives, this world, even how it can change the church. There was an emphasis on cross-cultural issues, racial justice, and reconciliation that felt right and good. After one of the worship sets, I commented to Deidra on the diversity of the people leading us in song and we wondered aloud why the arts tend to be more integrated than other areas of life. Music. It is a language of love. When people are united in a common love, a common passion, it’s easier to open the heart and celebrate differences as gifts, I suppose. I wonder how, as Christians, we can let our shared love for Jesus do that in a better way out in the world. And the more we keep wondering together and talking about these things and letting love be our guide the more our talk will lead to wise action and the more hearts will become one. I want to be part of that conversation.
One thing we try to do at The High Calling during our retreats at Laity Lodge is extend outrageous hospitality to all present. This year, as I watched snow fall outside from the warmth of my hotel room, I realized this is a big part of Jubilee too. From Byron Borger (AKA “Double B”) taking a second to say hello to me in the midst of the busy setting up his bookstore to CCO President Dan Dupee taking a selfie with me as they waited for him to come up on stage at Jubilee Professional (I didn’t know), these folks live out the message they preach: Everything in this beautiful, broken world belongs to God and we are here to steward it well. There is only this very thin layer of skin separating us from touching, from claiming all that is holy. The Gospel does, indeed, change everything.
I am beginning to see that all this mingling, this reaching out to others—it is all an act of hospitality. When I make myself poor, abandon that fear of losing what I defend, I am easier in reaching out in freedom. And I see that, just as in scripture, the stranger brings to me so many precious gifts.
Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us: