Hospitality can mean many things. It involves numerous individual actions, such as offering tea or hosting a houseguest. These actions and the expectations around them are shaped by culture, generational characteristics, and even dynamics within individual families. But hospitality, when lived out in light of Jesus’ call to love your neighbor as yourself, is something much bigger than simply serving others in your home. It is more of a philosophy or way of life. It is recognizing what you have – your home, your belongings, your time – as resources to be used to bless and care for the people around you, whether they be friends, family, or complete strangers. There are a few ways this is lived out in the Hill City community, and each one of them shapes our lives together.
One thing that struck me when I was first introduced to the community was that people readily share keys to their apartments with one another. Folks go over to one another’s homes a lot, even when the actual residents are not around. This may not seem like part of “hospitality,” but to me, this demonstrates a level of open-handedness with possessions and personal space that is part of this greater idea that the things we have are meant to be shared. It also shows great openness to close interactions with other people. The invitation to share space, resources, and time is an invitation to intimacy. It breaks down the boundaries of “mine” and “yours” and creates a sense of family.
This openness is even extended to people who are unfamiliar. When my now-husband, Nick, first moved to the area, a couple in our community offered to have him live with them as he searched for a more permanent living situation. They had never met him before, and I was amazed at their willingness to have a stranger share their living space with them for an undetermined amount of time. As I would come to see more and more, this giving attitude toward people in need of housing is not uncommon in our church. It’s a bit out-there if you think about it. How many people would readily share their personal space and their belongings with someone they don’t know? But when someone, whether a friend or stranger, needs a place to stay, the community figures out how they can use what they have to help them.
Hospitality is also done together, as a community. When there is a need for housing, we work together to meet it. We also work together to extend hospitality to the neighborhood. Whenever there is a barbeque, dinner, game night, or any sort of gathering, we invite people from all different spheres of our lives, be they coworkers, neighbors, and even people passing on the street, and together we clean up, provide food, and make introductions among the people we’ve met.
Behind these actions of hospitality, whether they be providing places to sleep or getting someone a seat at the dinner table, is a mission of creating peace in the world and in individual lives. A home can be a space of safety, acceptance, comfort, intimacy, and blessing in a world that often brings malice, isolation, and tragedy to people’s lives. When Nick and I first moved to our apartment, we developed a vision for how it could be used to bring blessing to those around us. We strive to make it a place where people are cared for and shown how valuable they are. We also hope that will be a place of acceptance, where people can feel comfortable to be how God created them. There seems to be a lot of isolation in the DC area, and we wanted to make our home a gathering place that would bring people close to one another. It’s been an interesting mission so far. While the ways we show hospitality are shaped by culture, interests, and other factors, they are founded on a desire to show the love of Christ to the people in our lives by serving them, getting to know them for the remarkable and complex people they are, and in all this, loving them.
Like what you see here? Join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington for the conversation and our Q&A.