“Whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me.”
Hospitality is a buzz word in The Episcopal Church these days. It gets invoked when all theological rationale for a subject has failed. So, for instance, when clergy argue that Baptism should not be a barrier to the Eucharistic Feast, they cite hospitality as the man reason why.
It gets even messier when Jesus tell us that if we welcome those who come in his name, we welcome Jesus himself. The alternative of that is also read into this statement is that if you don’t welcome someone to everything, you have locked Jesus out. This is the trouble with hospitality: that it is the trump card against which no one can argue.
So let’s reevaluate our doctrine of hospitality. The Greek word that Matthew uses for “welcome” has at its first definition “to receive.” What if we re-imagined our job as being people who receive others into our midst? Instead of changing who we are to make the other feel welcome, what if we received them into the fullness of who we are and then invited to come into deeper relationship wherein we both learn more about each other and ourselves?