Bringing Light into Darkness: The Call for Radical Ordinary Hospitality

“Hospitality conjures up a scene of Victorian tea, with crocheted doilies and China-inspired blue and white paisley-patterned teacups. Radical means “change from the root” and conjures up political and social upheaval and the kind of change that normally scares the pants off conservative Christians. Ordinary means “everyday,” “commonplace” . . . . Only in the Jesus paradox do these incongruous ideas come together. And come together they must.” Rosaria Butterfield~

The days were dark because the age was dark. But a small light was shining to preserve and pass along once more the vestiges of civilization.

Thomas E. Woods writes about men who lived selfless lives and strived to teach people how to live in community–how to best live out the scriptures.

Woods sums up their life goals in this passage: “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.” That’s what the Benedictine monks did during the Dark Ages, and Western Civilization resulted.

Our first step, Woods tells us, is to establish a place of peace. “During a period of great turmoil, the Benedictine tradition endured, and its houses remained oases of order and peace.”

Some of the most effective ministries in my community are places of peace for young people–after school or on Friday evenings.

Our homes can be places of peace and welcome. But that’s harder today. We come home from work hoping for solitude. Hoping for our own singular moments of peace.

And sometimes when we reach out to others, they are too busy to come to our home or to open their own homes.

Rosaria Butterfield opens her house every day. She cooks a big but simple meal. Every. Day.

Her neighbors and fellow church members come. Her husband, a pastor, teaches.

She reaches neighbors. She makes a difference.

I’d like to say I can’t do that. Certainly not every day. No one can.

Even Butterfield took time off from her daily neighborhood meal preparation when her mother was dying. Ministry to family comes first.

But life gives us seasons of different ministries. And that season of time off from neighborly meal making made a difference in her mother’s life–changing her mother’s eternity.

Hospitality might be opening your home to neighbors in a radical but ordinary way. But most of the time, hospitality has more to do with availability.

We can carry our places of peace to others. We can be a place of peace wherever we are.

Some of us can pick up Butterfield’s model and become a beacon of light, providing food and hope to a community of neighbors daily.

Some of us can shine a light to a neighboring family less often yet still regularly. To a newcomer just arriving in town. To a child after school.

Butterfield and others living out a season of radical ministry cast a long shadow. Their commitment is large.

But we should not shy away from hospitality because the task seems too big.

We just need to be willing to take on our own task–no matter how big–no matter how small.

As Butterfield tells us: “Start somewhere. Start today.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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22 Replies to “Bringing Light into Darkness: The Call for Radical Ordinary Hospitality”

  1. I love what you said about the connection between modern hospitality and availability. We talked just yesterday evening during our fall group launch about the staggering number of lonely people. It convicted me about making myself more available; here’s God confirming this to me again through your blog!

    1. Love that the blog is confirmation, Candice. It’s such a challenge today to balance all we do with a flexibility that provides availability. Thanks and God bless!

  2. I love the connection between hospitality and peace. As a student of peace, I was drawn to your words, “Our homes can be places of peace and welcome.” Oh, yes!! To invite people in is a sign of welcome that few experience today, and to invite them into a place of peace—what a beautiful gift. Thank you for sharing this, Nancy!

  3. Hospitality is becoming a lost art, but there is such simple, lovely kindness in helping create a haven of peace, whether that’s for a group of kids, a neighbor, your family, etc. Thank you for this, Nancy!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jessica. What used to feel like a natural part of life has become something we have to work to make happen. God bless!

  4. I love this charge! It’s intimidating at the moment to open my home to others, as we recently moved and are doing renovations. So I want to have the appearance of having everything together and beautiful before having people over. But friends (and even acquaintances) understand life is never perfect! So this was a great challenge for me to read today. 🙂

    1. We all think our homes have to look like pictures in magazines. But they almost never do. It’s our challenge to let people in to see our real world. Thanks, Emily. God bless!

  5. Ahhh… this was such a good read! Very inspiring and well written, too! When I first began to provide hospitality, I thought everything had to be perfect: an immaculately clean house, perfect food, fine dishes, etc. But after years of stressing out over that kind of preparation, I learned that what people really need is to just feel welcomed. How you make people feel is what they will remember, not if you’re house was spotless. Thanks for the reminder of putting others first, and being a light in challenging times.

    1. Lisa, I have the sense that you’ve gone through what many good hostesses do–a process of trying to find perfection and then settling for hearty hospitality. Good for you. Thanks and God bless!

  6. Thank you for this reminder of the profound ministry of hospitality. I appreciate your mention of times when it must be put on hold, as well as ways we can carry our peace where we go. But I do desire to have a home something like Rosaria’s. Praying that the Lord will help me with this.

  7. Radical, ordinary hospitality, such a great description and great read. I used to struggle with expecting perfection before inviting someone over but now it is about our time together.

    1. I always said the house should look like a picture in a magazine. I’ve lightened up considerably. Age is a blessing in that regard. Thanks, Yvonne. God bless!

  8. I love Rosaria Butterfield and her story. Her “radical” hospitality is so simple, yet so difficult to carry out in our harried world. When life was slower, this was a norm, a regular activity in our lives. I miss it. Thank you for this reminder to do the simple and the best action.

  9. This is such a great reminder. Hospitality is definitely something we need more of today. Simple, kind gestures mean a lot.

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