by Debbonnaire Kovacs

 
Chapter  17 of The Monastery of the Heart is on this rule of hospitality. Perhaps we can gain some ideas from it, in the context of visitors to our own homes and churches. Perhaps, we could even gain some insights about growing our church membership.
 
Chittister says:
 

It is possible, of course,
to make community
out of “our kind of people,”
out of people who look like us
and think like us
and have the same backgrounds as we do.

 
But that is not
the kind of community
the ancient Rule
has in mind. . .

 
In Adventism, it’s not that we expect people to have the same backgrounds (though we like it); it’s that we think that, given time and prayer and instruction, they’ll become just like us in looks, word, and deed.
 

When Benedict of Nursia began
his new way of living
in wild, licentious, sixth-century Rome,
he turned that world upside down. 
 
He took into his monastic community
the rich and the poor,
the slave and the free,
the young and the old,
artists and craftsmen,
peasants and noblemen.
It was a motley crew.

 
I wonder if he’d read Galatians 3:28?
 

And then, as if that weren’t enough,
he opened the doors
of the monastery
to anyone who came,
at any time,
to anyone who knocked,
no matter who they were
or where they had been in life
along the way.
 

Hmm. I wonder if he’d also read Hebrews 13:2?
 
Benedictine monasteries are perhaps best known for their hospitality. They take seriously the injunction to “welcome strangers, for in so doing, you may entertain angels unaware.” Wherever you are in the world, if you are in need of shelter, you can go to a Benedictine monastery and they will take you in. (Speaking for myself, I’ve found that to be true of Adventists, too, in general, even though we don’t have a specific rule about it.) In the 9th century, when Vikings were raiding the British Isles, the story is that at Martyrs Bay, Iona, the reason so many monks, along with their abbot, were slaughtered is that they were still trying to keep Benedict’s Rule that the entire community must welcome any and all guests “as Christ,” with prayer and a kiss of peace. They well knew the Vikings had not come in peace, or with any idea of being Christ-like. But they wanted to be Christ-like.
 
So do I. I’m not sure I’d be that brave about it. . .
 
When was the last time you greeted a Viking raider with a kiss of welcome and peace? Metaphorically speaking. Or not. . .