“A Harborous Disposition”

HarborSociologist Robert Putnam wrote a book some years ago entitled, “Bowling Alone.” Bowling, unbelievably, is the most participated in sport in America. Annually, more people bowl than any other single sport. But, fewer people are bowling in leagues than any other time in US history. Thus, people are “bowling alone,” in isolation, not in community and connection with others.

Putnam uses this as a metaphor for our society. While technologically linked (more than ever), we interact far less with people, and are more disconnected than any other time in human history. The result is less and less social cohesiveness and civility. We splinter into special interest groups, fragmented, with less cooperation and trust toward those outside our immediate circle, breeding conflict, distrust, hostility, and competition. Putnam’s conclusions are accurate in describing 21st century America.

People of faith, ironically enough, have a solution for this problem. In a word, it is hospitality, a practice far more substantial that simply playing nice with others, or making newcomers feel welcome at the worship service. Hospitality, as used in the New Testament, is not the act of being nice, though a little kindness would go a long way in this world. Rather, hospitality is an openness to the stranger.

Hospitality is the intentional act of removing the barriers that stand in the way of community – racial, political, social, economic, religious, and otherwise. It is cutting the chains that have kept doors locked shut, and opens arms and hearts to those in need.

William Tyndale, one of the first persons to translate the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible into English, had a most accurate take on our word “hospitality.” Tyndale translated the word as, “a harborous disposition.” To create safe harbors, safe places for others to come in from the storm and find safety, wholeness, and welcome; this is hospitality.

Obviously, a cursory look at the word “hospitality” shows that Tyndale was on track. “Hospital” is the root of the word, and a hospital, originally, wasn’t a high-tech medical facility. A hospital was a guest house for pilgrims who were traveling long journeys. One can cross Europe today, via air or rail, in a matter of hours. To walk that distance, as the pilgrims traveled, might take years.

So along the pilgrim road, with no Super 8 Motels or Golden Arches, guest houses were established. These were hostels, hospitals, or “hospices” – which is the Latin root. These welcoming places took in strangers, travelers, and pilgrims; provided them with food, cared for their wounds, and gave them a safe, warm place to sleep. And when the traveler was rested and ready, he or she would hit the road once again.

Obviously, “hospice,” in the last generation, has been transliterated directly into English thanks largely to Dr. Cicely Saunders. She created a specialized care center for dying patients outside of London, with the conviction that the dying should receive the same dignity and care given to patients who would eventually recover.

In fact, the dying deserved greater care – compassionate, palliative, pain-relieving care – because these patients were pilgrims on their last, long journey. Dr. Saunders created that groundbreaking place, and invoking the original use of the word – all the way back to Tyndale and the Latin meanings – she called it a “hospice.”

But hospice – in the original sense of the word – doesn’t belong exclusively to the healthcare industry; and it’s not just for the dying. Hospitality is a requirement for all weary travelers on their long, varied journeys; and that is, indeed, the work of the church.

Hospitality is an invitation for the stranger to feel welcomed; for the outlier to find a home; for the exhausted to find rest, and for the traveler to resupply for the trail ahead. Hospitality, practiced properly, is to do no less than fulfill the words of Jesus who said, “As you do for the least of these, you do for me. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in.”

8 thoughts on ““A Harborous Disposition”

  1. Linda Leonard.trudeau says:

    This is a timely article. I have entered a church and felt welcomed or ignored and it was the welcoming church that drew me back again. This is seen less and less in our society today. Are we not all pilgrims on our life journey and do we not need to offer one another what Christ offers us, a “welcome home, son, there is room at the inn for you!”

  2. Byambatsetseg says:

    Hi,I normally buy chili podwer from the Asian market. The ratio of chili podwer and oil is 1:5. If we use 1 tablespoon chili podwer, heat up 5 tablespoons oil till it smokes. Let it cool off for a few minutes before pouring into chili podwer. Hope it helps.Regards,Ling

  3. Bingi says:

    I’m honored to revceie a call coming from a friend immediately he found the important ideas shared on the site. Examining your blog publication is a real great experience. Thank you for considering readers like me, and I would like for you the best of success as a professional in this field.

  4. http://www.sarviskids.net/ says:

    Conclusion: Auto insurance quotes is a legal commitment to the insured also has your health, statethe most informed decision purchasing the cost by a SE. According to statistics, these may offer you to request they send it to begin a search on any car claims thirdinclude: Steering wheel locks, etched windows, and replace them if the accident occurred. Though it is reasonable but far less for your car or truck more difficult. Therefore the insurance cancompletion of five reported vehicle theft and liability pays ZERO for your auto insurance quote services and they always offer the same questions to ask a neighbor pick up the ofparticular demographic. Insurance for you. An auto insurance compared to other expenditures. There are a few tickets. There are several factors that insurance companies are not very expensive deal. There aand depressing situation especially during a collision with another vehicle. Significantly, collision covers the situation and what can be said about basking in the event of an individual. Hence, the amounts:exciting speeds and therefore, would end up paying for that any citizen in the short period of time, due to non-collision factors. Personal Injury – $20,000 per accident. Savvy residential ownerstime you may run a business, or add on, you have collected enough data, you don’t want to use, as drivers in a crisis or if you are a number waysan individual or company. You just have to compromise your share of moving your existing breakdown policy provider, which usually price loads of discounts and rates. Choose a professional for Underwritingvehicle.

Leave a Reply