By Jayme R. Reaves. From Geez 56: Entertaining Angels.
When someone says “hospitality,” what comes to mind?
Offering a cup of coffee or tea, a hot meal, a bed for the night – these are the usual answers. When we dig deeper, there’s usually an emphasis on welcome, creating a space where people feel at home, a warmth, a commitment to the other’s wellbeing.
In English, the Latin roots for the word hospitality connote two different ideas. First, the root hostis implies both guest and host, indicating a fluidity of motion between the two, a reciprocity or exchange that is expected: “I do this for you because you did this for me.” In the ancient worlds that shaped our religious traditions, the common practice was to treat guests with respect for two main reasons. Either it was an act of diplomacy as you may be a traveler in their land one day, or because there was an understanding that a guest could have been a powerful being – a god – in disguise, testing the righteous. Therefore, welcoming a guest became a sacred ritual because you just never really know who this guest sitting at your table really is or what they may be able to do for you later. Continue reading