During this Lent, the community of St. Stephen’s has been gathering for dinner, conversation, prayer, and reflection on the disciplines of being an intentional community of faith. Using themes taken from various Christian monastic rules of life, so far we have contemplated the meaning of hospitality and prayer for us personally and as a community. We have also been assessing our strengths in these practices.
‘Hospitality’ was interpreted as the practice of presence to God and other people. Our gathering identified genuine sensitivity, gracious welcoming, and generosity of Spirit as particular practices at which we as a congregation excel. Growth edges in this area of practice include maintaining freedom of assumptions about others and stepping outside of ourselves and our friends to welcome strangers. Aspects of our common life which caused us grief or concern regarding our hospitality included rigidity, ways in which we shame and dismiss others, judgment and territorial behavior.
Ideas for deepening our practice of hospitality included: developing a prompt to use when greeting a stranger, maintaining eye contact, making a consistent effort beyond a first greeting to connect with new folks and actively reaching out to members of our congregation whom we have not seen in a while.
The purpose of these sessions is to stimulate our spiritual growth personally, and also to serve as a nucleus for a potential rule for a future intentional community coming from St. Stephen’s.
- The Rev. Lisa Hunt