Hospitality Theology

By Anderson, Mary W. | The Christian Century, July 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

Hospitality Theology


Anderson, Mary W., The Christian Century


Genesis 18:1-10a Psalm 15 Colossians 1:15-28 Luke 10:38-42

Southern women are great Marthas and proud of it. Having been raised in this culture, I know that supper in a southern kitchen is a wonder to behold. Those who have traditional southern hospitality refined to an art never sit. They hover. Plates are never allowed to go empty. Guests are continually asked if they need anything. In fact, many times the hostess will continue to cook all through the meal.

When does the hostess eat? This is one of the South's mysteries. The hostess keeps working, huffing around the table, a trickle of perspiration running past the string of pearls on her neck. She misses all dinner conversation, all sharing of feelings and information, and gives herself totally to serving.

Also a wonder is the woman who greets the guests unflustered at the door with the table already set, the kitchen spotless. This hostess sits, talks, laughs and eats the appetizers with her guests. She excuses herself, goes to the kitchen, and returns with food that's prepared and ready to eat. At dinner, she remains around the table, getting to know the guests, asking about their lives, sharing her own thoughts and feelings.

Hospitality is an art form. Along its spectrum we all fall somewhere between Martha Stewart and the person who has the pizza place listed on the speed dial. We might shrug off the matter of hospitality styles as an unimportant detail of life except that there appears to be a theology of hospitality at work in scripture. Prime examples of this theology are found in the narratives of two dinner parties: one by the oaks of Mamre and the other in the village of Bethany. Abraham and Sarah spontaneously entertain strangers who appear suddenly during their afternoon nap. Mary and Martha entertain their friend Jesus. They know that he is known as a personality, and even talk sometimes about whether or not their friend could be the Messiah promised to God's people. He is a friend whose presence makes the hostess dust off the good china and polish the silver.

Theologically speaking, hospitality is vital. Not because of the food how much there is and what is served is inconsequential. A little unleavened bread and a cup of wine will do in most cases, because what truly brings us together is the word.

During the eating and the drinking al fresco at Mamre and around the table at Bethany, God's word is shared. The strangers (who the reader knows are God and angels) come to dinner to deliver a message: God promises Abraham and Sarah that the barren will rejoice. At dinner, Jesus shares the promises of God with Mary that the lowly will be lifted up, the dead will be raised, the blind will see and the hopeless given hope. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hospitality Theology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.