Heart and Hearth
By Jeremy Grossman, Discipleship Chair
One of my very favorite stories is a chapter from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows in which the shy, somewhat backwards Mole is drawn to the home he abandoned months before when on a whim he visited The River and met his friend, the ever capable and confident Rat. Mole’s excitement at returning to his home quickly turns to dismay when he realizes he has nothing to offer his friend. “‘O Ratty!’ he cried dismally, ‘why ever did I do it? Why did I bring you to this poor, cold little place, on a night like this, when you might have been at River Bank by this time, toasting your toes before a blazing fire, with all your own nice things about you!” Of course, Rat, in his truly magnanimous way, pays no heed to these sentiments and quickly takes command of situation. Later, when carolers appear on Mole’s doorstep, Rat goes a step further to quietly ensure food and drink are purchased so that everyone is treated to a merry time.
The title of this chapter is “Dulce Domum”—Latin for “Sweet Home”—and it captures so well so many things about human nature (despite the use of animals as protagonists). The need for “Home” runs deep; we have a “longing for belonging.” Likewise, we often feel inadequate in our ability to share the thing that makes us feel like we belong, the piece of ourselves that is connected to a place or a group of people, our “Home” in whatever shape or form it may be, in order to invite others in. However, that is the most distinctive definition of hospitality that I can think of: making someone else feel welcome in the place or with the people we feel most comfortable and welcome ourselves. But we struggle. We become overprotective of what is “ours” or we are afraid that what is “ours” isn’t good enough for someone else. Sometimes we even have the audacity to believe that we ourselves are simply not good enough to invite others into our lives. Sometimes, like with the Mole, it takes a little reassurance to remind us that there are no meager offerings when we give in Love.
As we continue our paths of discipleship, a discussion of hospitality is essential. And not just any hospitality will do—we need radical hospitality to transform lives (our own as well as others).
Instead of stopping at a handshake or an invitation to the church potluck, what if we did more? UMC Bishop Robert Schnase proposed “imagine people offering the absolute utmost of themselves, their creativity, their abilities, and their energy to offer the gracious invitation and reception of Christ to others.” This concept will be the foundation for the next Sunday School discussion group in the Church Parlor Conference Room after Easter, “Heart & Hearth: Opening Up and Stepping Out in Radical Hospitality” beginning on April 15 (following a discussion of John Wesley and the foundations of the Methodist Church on April 8 led by Pastor Tracey). Over the course of five weeks, we will discuss the idea of radical hospitality, intentional invitation, and a continued focus on learning to love God and others. The class will meet at 9:15 AM. Beverages will be available from the coffee cart and other refreshments will be provided. Childcare is also available. Everyone is welcome—please join us!
More information about this study, and other adult Sunday morning studies can be found on our Adult Ministry page.
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