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!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To Love Ourselves

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12: 30-31a

It’s the part of the passage we too often gloss over “as you love yourself.” But do we really?

We speak to ourselves in negative ways. We tell ourselves we have failed. We aren’t smart. Others are better.

I remember in high school watching another girl assess herself in the girls’ room mirror. I thought she was beautiful. I wished I looked like her.

Then she stuck her tongue out at herself and walked out the door. 

That stunned me. How could she think herself ugly? Then I realized. She is just like me. She thinks of herself the way I think of myself. 

We were alike in our disdain for ourselves. Perhaps it has always been so. And perhaps more so among young women.

Yet today, it’s worse for young women who speak to themselves in that same negative voice as the girl in the mirror did.

As we did then, they compare themselves to airbrushed actresses, women on magazine covers, and other girls pondering their images in the mirror as their minds replay the negative echo of social media.

There is a solution. Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves requires us to love ourselves–to stop the negative talk–to affirm ourselves.

This affirmation is not an acquisition of pride–but of seeing ourselves as God sees us. We are people Christ came to die for. We are imago Dei–people of his image who walk in his way. 

Imperfectly. Awkwardly. Stumbling at times.

But in the beauty of God’s love, we can see ourselves as the unique creations we are. The girl in the mirror is not ugly. She is specially designed for a purpose–an important purpose.

She is here to love herself because she is who he made her to be. And in loving herself–showing regard for herself–she affirms the God-reflection she finds others.

Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. 

And so fulfill all the commandments. 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Feed Your Neighbors: Buy Local

Next Thursday is our community’s Trick-or-Treat night. On that day, my husband, with all the enthusiasm and anticipation of an eager child, will carve our pumpkin. Then, he’ll light its candle. And even before dark, our porch light will alert our neighborhood munchkins that our house is Trick-or-Treater-friendly.

In previous years, we had stockpiled candy from the grocery store, candy shipped in from far away factories. A few years ago, it occurred to us that in our very own community is a candy factory that employs many local people—our neighbors.

Almost daily, we would drive past the factory store as if it were not there. Then one day, I went inside. Yum!—fresh, locally produced extravagances that my neighbors sell to me. Here were the treats of my youth—forgotten in the busyness of adulthood.

As a child, I would traipse around our neighborhood with my older brother. One year, it snowed, and we were the only ones knocking on doors, braving the wind blowing giant flakes sideways. Such was our devotion to confections.

Many neighbors dropped the locally made candy into my pillowcase sack. But I grew up to be a mother who valued the convenience of one-stop shopping. I heeded the sirens of nationally marketed sweets.

Yet, as other local enterprises closed their doors, the candy factory stayed.

My neighbors worked there for decades before I was born.

You might not have a candy factory in your community, which—considering the way some of us feed our sweet tooths—should keep the large corporate candy makers from toppling any time soon. But there are other ways to shop locally and bless our neighbors.

It’s a simple matter to search out locally owned stores, restaurants, farm stands, bakeries, and other businesses. Buying locally allows us to share the resources that we might otherwise distribute far and wide. And there are other advantages besides helping to employ our neighbors.

Locally grown food is fresher, tastes better, and is healthier. And we don’t have to buy everything locally to make a significant difference in our community.

According to loyaltolocal.com, “If every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy.”
It may be a bit more inconvenient to shop locally. It may even cost a bit more. But investing in a local business is ministry.

Feeding our neighbors as we feed ourselves is a creative way to love your neighbor.


Photo Credit: Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/en/candy-corn-candy-halloween-treat-1726481/)

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”