I'm seeking to start a conversation on ancient Christian hospitality.
A couple of things have stimulated this.
1. My local parish (St Thomas) runs an Open Church program. It is quite simple. Its purpose is to keep our parish church doors open from 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday irrespective of whether there is anything on at the church. It is run by volunteers who staff the program with 2 volunteers operating in pairs and each pair doing two hours each - so that is four people every day Mon to Fri. This means our chapel is open for prayer/quiet times. In winter a back pew is made comfortable with cushion, blanket and heater! The volunteers are happy to give a coffee to any one who drops in and have a chat with them as well. Emergency food parcels are available for those who need them - although like any organisation who provides such a service, there are some boundaries.
2. Anti-Poverty Week is coming up in Australia from 12-18 October. I am on the Christian sub-committee here in Victoria. I have been trying to think how I might be able to stimulate involvement and interest in this. What I would like to do is to have St Thom's through the Open Church ministry host a multi-faith day for our area with an emphasis on Hospitality within the different faith traditions. I believe it would give a profile to our Open Church program so that others might imitate it and so we might have fewer locked up churches in Melbourne. There might be other faith communities who have their buildings closed during the week who might consider how they could keep their buildings open to the community. And, of course, hospitality spins off into meeting with those at the margins, getting to know them, serving them and thus serving Christ.
In focussing on Hospitality I also have a hidden agenda and that is that our program at St Thom's might come to a deeper understanding of the role and function of hospitality within our tradition and how that tradition impacts us in our Christian walk and how, through hospitality, we might impact the lives of others.
I am aware that, for instance, the Benedictines have an ancient tradition re hospitality which I would like to hear more about. I have heard that locking doors goes against the ancient Christian tradition. Does anyone know about this? I am sure there is more that can be said - so I wonder if you could help me to learn more about hospitality in our tradition so that I can get a clear and deep focus on it to the extent that I am able to articulate this clearly to others. Documents that I could pass on to others to read might be a help as well.