The Point of Hospitality

I was in a Starbucks the other morning – I haunt this particular Starbucks when I have a car in the shop.  It’s a decent little walk, good coffee, and a place where I can get some work done while I wait.

Friday, I did something I almost never do.  I asked them to leave room for cream.

As I set my cup on the counter and reached for the half-and-half, I knocked over my coffee, spilling all but about half an ounce.  I got a good bit on myself, a little on the next customer over, and a lot on the floor.

I wanted to clean up my mess.

They wouldn’t let me.

The employee was incredibly polite and gracious about it.  They even refilled my coffee at no extra charge.

But I didn’t want them to serve me by cleaning up the mess I made.

Should I have felt well taken care of because they insisted on cleaning up my spill?

I wonder these things because we, the church, ought to be hospitable.  I want to learn from others about what hospitality looks like and incorporate such practices into our own.

But I wonder if what some who are acculturated in church intend as hospitality can feel smothering or even self-righteous to those who are not acculturated in church.

We seek to be hospitable in ways that are received as hospitable, not in ways that a list of duties tells us is hospitable.

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