Charis Lambert writes after her Facebook Lives on May 14 2020:
When I google Messy Church, it comes up with the tagline: ‘Messy Church – church, but not as you know it.’
Unfortunately at the moment Messy Church itself is not as we know (and love) it. And in this changed situation, the core value of hospitality is the one that might seem the hardest to reenvisage – where we cannot meet together physically and share the hospitality of the meal, the food, the time around the table. And we are grieving that loss, as we also acknowledge that many are suffering food poverty at this difficult time.
But hospitality is (and always has been) so much more than just food! The dictionary definition is a beautiful summing up of what Messy Church actually is:
Hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
How great is that? We welcome everyone whoever they might be to us – strangers, friends, guests, visitors, family!
So the challenge perhaps is how we welcome, and whatever stage we are in right now we need to consider a different kind of welcome.
Greg Ross shared that in Australia they may be able to welcome 20 people into their building – but how to choose who that 20 will be? We in the UK still face closed buildings, so our welcome needs to be online, virtual or perhaps dropping activities off and leaving.
We may be able to spend this time thinking about how we will welcome people back – how they will find us and what we will dream about being able to say and do as they arrive back for the first time. Becky May suggested a huge round of applause!
Maybe our welcome home needs to be as extravagant and loving as the one received by the prodigal son when he returned home to his father – no questions, sanctions, retributions, regrets but love and a huge feast! (Food does make an appearance again!)
Or maybe we need to think about the kind of welcome we can offer in the meantime. The woman who welcomed Jesus at the meal of Simon the Pharisee (see Mark 14:1-9) did three things:
She welcomed him in the way that no one else would or could. She washed his feet, gave him a welcome kiss and anointed his feet to show her love and respect for him.
She welcomed him in the most creative way. She washed his feet with tears and dried them with her hair, using everything that was available to her in a creative way.
She welcomed him sacrificially, offering her most precious possession – the perfume she poured on his feet was valuable and personal.
Her welcome came out of the love she had for him and the love she had received from him! So this is our challenge for those we love in our Messy families-
Can we welcome them in the way no one else can or will welcome them?
Can we welcome them creatively using what we have available to us now?
Can we welcome them sacrificially, personally and showing our love for them?
Now that’s hospitality- but maybe not as we know it!