A theology of hospitality

I spent last week in a workshop on interculturalism with MST students in the In-Ministry Year. Our guest facilitator, Martin Bellerose, invited us into his scholarship and on-the-ground engagements in a theology of migration, a theology of hospitality. We remained in Montreal but were immersed in diversities of ethnicity, experience, language, and theology both within the class and with others. With Martin’s help, we connected with Columbian pastors working with migrants and in peace building, migrant farmworkers in Quebec, Latin American congregations in Montreal, francophone Quebecers, and others.

The last day, Martin challenged us: “What story will you tell when you go home?” Our task was to create a 500-word narrative bridge between an intense intercultural learning experience and our faith community.  So here is a story for Dio/UTC based on what Martin Bellerose showed.

Once, long ago, Boaz noticed a stranger gathering leftover stalks of grain in his field. “Who is she?” he asked.  “Ruth, the Moabite refugee who brought Naomi home,” they answered.

Not waiting for the stranger to come to him, Boaz went to meet her.  He thanked her for what she had done, in caring for Naomi. He gave her what she needed to survive. Time passed, and they became a family. So it is that Ruth the Moabite became the grandmother of King David, and the great, great, great … great grandmother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Boaz models encounter across difference. First, we must notice. Not waiting for others to find us, we move toward them. We give thanks for what they bring to us.  We offer hospitality but the giving is mutual; we must also be able to receive. If we can be trusted, and this takes time, we will become family through mutual adoption. Our differences will not be erased but we will create something new together, and this newness will be the source of our salvation.

We have the gift of diversity at UTC – Dio, including denomination, theology, sexuality, ethnicity, experience, language, and more. And I think we are learning to move like Boaz in this play of difference. We notice one another, we move toward that which seems different, we give thanks for the gifts difference brings. We show hospitality.  When the time is right, we will become one community and something new will be born.


This message was written by Jesse Zink for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a weekly news digest distributed to the college community.