Peace To This House: A Theology of Guest

Peace To This House

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

Luke 10:5-7

Much is said about Christians offering hospitality. The call is very strong for Christians to be wonderful hosts to all people, no matter skin colour, gender, age, socio-economic background, etc…

The reality of a post Christian world is such that the vast majority of people do not know the message of Jesus.  The Jesus story is not common place.  People walk by churches not knowing what the cross symbolizes.  This amplifies the need for hospitality to be foundational in Christian practice.

If Christians dare to venture into the post Christendom landscape, they WILL very well find themselves depending on the hospitality of those who do not have any connection to the Christian faith.

The early church depended on hospitality of others. When Jesus sends out the 72 in Luke 10, they become dependant on the hospitality of people in the towns which they visited.

The missional practitioner within a Post Christian context needs to know how to accept hospitality from others.  The missional practitioner needs to hold and embody a deep understanding of guest.

The implications are far reaching. A theology of guest means we respect ‘the other.’  It means we find comfort in the homes of other people.  It means we pay attention to, and partner with organizations that may not be Christian.  It means we bring ‘peace to’ the house in which we find ourselves.  We enter into the place of ‘the other’ embodying a message, representing a tribe of Jesus followers, a tribe of peace.  A theology of guest assumes that people, even non-Christians (sarcastic “GHASP”) have something to offer.

A post Christendom missionary will find him or herself depending on, and needing to accept gracefully, hospitality from ‘the other.’

Where do you find yourself accepting hospitality from others?  What differences do you find between hospitality from non-Christians (I hate that term, any other suggestions?) and Christians?

A Mennonite Megachurch?



The megachurch movement that began about thirty years ago is bearing unappetizing fruit.  Clearly, we cannot inhabit the planet the way we have been for the last 50 years.  We also cannot allow multinational corporations to shape our lives with their marketing and gadgets.  It’s sad to say, but when the church began adopting practices of corporations and reduced the gospel to its most marketable size, we lost our mystery, our wonder, and our imagination.

Younger people are turning to faiths like Buddhism that are more mystical and inspiring, or they are turning to agnosticism.  Younger Christians are not so different.  We are looking for something that captures our imagination, something that is worth living for.  We’re not content with a magical afterlife.  We want to embody the kingdom of God now.

Mennonite theology affirms that we can experience and share the kingdom here and now.  The life of the Spirit invites us again into the story of wonder and mystery.  We don’t have to live as lonely Christians going to a building to listen to music and preaching.  We can live together as we were created, in the image of the God who is three and one, the divine community.  We can embody heaven on earth as we work at reconciling deep racial and economic injustices.  Indeed, we can take the Sermon on the Mount seriously and join the story that God has been telling from the beginning.

Seth McCoy, “Widening the Circle: Experiments in Christian Discipleship.”   179-180.  Edited by Joanna Shenk.

What are the implications when churches adopt corporate practices?  What is gained or lost?  In what ways does Mennonite theology affirm the ‘here and now’ experience?  Can a Mennonite church be a megachurch?

Belonging before Believing

“Belonging before believing”

Words that struck me with a particular force as they were spoken by Stuart Murray a few months ago.

It is a significant statement.  “Belonging before believing” is to suggest that in our post Christendom and post modern context our sharing of faith, our evangelism/mission, is not immediately dependant upon ‘acceptance of Jesus.’  Rather it is a call to belong, belief or not, with a community of people who participate in redemption with a Trinitarian God.

More significantly, it puts community at the center of mission.

It means that our hospitality, acceptance and recognizing the humanity in everyone is just as important as whether or not the people who join in community believe in Jesus.

People are longing for a place to belong.  As friend Gareth Brandt (he has a great blog, you should check it out) said in a recent conversation “That is the gospel, Jesus saying ‘you belong with me.’”


A few years ago, Linkin Park came out with a song that speaks to the longing to belong.  It is a song that ended up resonating with many youth an young adults.  I have included the video, and the lyrics below.  The lyrics are an important cultural indicator of our current place in history.

(HT to Gareth Brandt for reminding me of this song…)

“Somewhere I Belong”

(When this began)
I had nothing to say
And I get lost in the nothingness inside of me
(I was confused)
And I let it all out to find
That I’m not the only person with these things in mind
(Inside of me)
But all that they can see the words revealed
Is the only real thing that I’ve got left to feel
(Nothing to lose)
Just stuck, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own
I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I’ve felt so long
(Erase all the pain till it’s gone)
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong
And I’ve got nothing to say
I can’t believe I didn’t fall right down on my face
(I was confused)
Looking everywhere only to find
That it’s not the way I had imagined it all in my mind
(So what am I)
What do I have but negativity
’Cause I can’t justify the way, everyone is looking at me
(Nothing to lose)
Nothing to gain, hollow and alone
And the fault is my own, and the fault is my own
[Repeat Chorus]
I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I’ll find myself today
[Repeat Chorus]
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m somewhere I belong
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m somewhere I belong
Somewhere I belong

How about you?  Do have a sense of belonging in community?  What communal actions are important for hospitality?

Anabaptist Quietism

The early Anabaptists were enthusiastic and vocal in sharing their faith with any who would listen to them, urging people to repent and become followers of Jesus.  Their testimony, even as they were led to the stake, was so worrying to the authorities that tongue screws were used to silence them.  But the pressure of persecution gradually convinced Anabaptists that keeping quiet about their faith was the only way to survive, and most adopted this stance (some even signed agreements exchanging vows of silence so as to be left in peace).  They became known as “the quiet in the land.”

While quietism was understandable in such contexts, like separatism, it has become embedded in the Anabaptist tradition.  Not speaking openly about one’s faith is now defended by some Anabaptists as a mark of humility, rather than as a hangover from a history of repression.  Their emphasis is on living out their faith, rather than talking about it.  But this approach to bearing witness to Jesus Christ is seriously deficient in a post-Christendom culture that knows little of what Christians believe and lacks the tools to interpret the way we live.

Stuart Murray, “The Naked Anabaptist” Page 165

Vacation time. We are in Winnipeg for 2 weeks.  I am hopeful that this time will be a restful.  Therefore I will be staying away from social media and the blog.  I will however schedule posts on the regular Tuesday and Thursday’s which will be excerpts from books that have been significantly formative for me during this past year.  I hope they will be a blessing to you also.

Thanks for reading.  

An Invitation into the Story of God


Another beautiful evening, and another meal under the stars in the courtyard.  As the ekklesia gathers in her home, the woman greets them into the portico with a kiss.  She then kneels to wash their feet in the bowl of the petal-strewn water she has prepared, washing away the dust of the day.  She wipes them dry with the towel wrapped around her waist and sends them in to recline at table.

The merchant makes his way to the woman’s house with a spring in his step.  It has been a particularly good day of trade in the marketplace, and a pleasant meal in good company awaits him.  During the few moments when his stall was quiet today, his thoughts have gone to the remarkable story he heard the night before.  He knows little of the history, culture or religion of Abraham, and always enjoys learning about the people he does business with in the metropolitan centers of trade he visits.  But this group, these ‘Christians,’ are unlike any he has encountered before.  And the Jesus they serve, well, his story is truly remarkable.  And if it is true…

When he arrives at the woman’s house, he warmly greets his host and exchanges a kiss.  But when she kneels at his feet and draws the bowl toward him, he steps back, shocked.  “What are you doing?” he asks.

She smiles upon him.  “Washing the weariness of the day from your feet, and refreshing you before dinner?”

“But that is work for your servants – not their mistress!” he exclaims.

“Permit me if you will, it is our way.”

He steps forward hesitantly, sits down on a stool and removes his sandals.  As she pours water over his feet and gently washes them, he feels deeply uncomfortable.  As she dries them with the towel, he asks, “Why are you doing this?”

“The answer to your question lies in the story I will tell you tonight.  Please – take your place at the table, and I will join you when everyone has arrived.”

The merchant walks into the courtyard, and as he reclines and looks around at those gathered, he finds himself wondering again, Who are these people?  And what compels them to live this way?

Sean Gladding, “The Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost and Found in the Bible” 178 –179.

How do you invite others into the story of God?