Last year was particularly challenging for us at St. Clare’s. In 2015 we wadded through an unusual amount of grief, saying good-bye to friends, family, and long-time parishioners.
In addition, time-tested programs did not receive the level of attention they normally are given. We generated new, life-giving programs and while met with enthusiasm, participation as a whole was lack-luster.
It seems reflective of the mood engendered in the year: painful, challenging, and difficult.
It’s difficult to get out of rut and even more tempting to stay in it. However, I believe the Holy Spirit calls us to greater things. Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881) said the following and I concur: “Life is short, and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.”
Good words but how do we do that?
Jenn Chinn who is program manager for Charlotte’s Place (A community of worship) has written “7 Hard Truths about the Practice of Hospitality” which I think provide excellent boundaries not only in extending hospitality but moving towards a joy-filled life.
Consider these then a “New Years Resolution” your own particular commitment towards greater joy in your own life, the lives of others, and our community of faith.
Here is what she says:
- There will be someone you don’t really want to welcome walking through your door at least once a day. This is human—which is not to say you shrug your shoulders and ignore it. Acknowledge it, cut yourself some slack, and say hello.
- Never kick someone out of your heart. But you can ask them to leave the space.
- Self-forgiveness is non-negotiable. As a wise priest once told me, “You are not perfect, but you are divine.” You will make mistakes. Tomorrow is a new day.
- Setting rules, boundaries, and limitations is not easy, especially when you see people in need. But remember, the people in need will benefit from the peace and well-being that is created in the space by the rules you established.
- The power of your hospitality will not always be seen in the moment. A warm, heartfelt welcome is a gift that can be difficult for some to receive. Have faith. Keep showing up. Hospitality is, above all, a practice.
- Everyone deserves beauty. Providing that for another is part of the practice.
- Everyone likes to help. Never be totally ready for the party. Receiving gifts is part of hospitality too.
Yours for the reign of God,