CHILDREN TEACH US TO BE HOSPITABLE
HOSPITALITY AND CHILDREN. I recently reviewed Families at the Crossroads by Rodney Clapp (IVP, 1993). I was impressed by his perspective on parenting. In a society in which birthing and rearing children does not seem to make much economic or consumer sense, Clapp asks Christians "Why do we have children?" His assertion: "Christians have children so we can become the kind of people who welcome strangers."
OUR CHILDREN, OUR TEACHERS. After tracing the bold threads of the history of Israel, the story of Jesus, and the life of the early church that put hospitality to strangers as central to spiritual formation and Godly practice, Clapp observes: "Christian parenthood, then, is practice in hospitality, in the welcoming and support of strangers. Welcoming the strangers who are our children, we learn a little about being out of control, about the possibility of surprise (and so of hope), about how strange we ourselves are. Moment by mundane moment--dealing with rebellion, hosting birthday parties, struggling to understand...--we pick up skills in patience, empathy, generosity, forgiveness..."
OPEN TO THE STRANGEST STRANGER OF ALL. He continues: "And all these are transferrable skills, skills we can and must use to welcome other strangers besides our children. We become better equipped to open ourselves to strangers, especially to those strangers who are not our children but our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, finally, and most importantly, gaining courage to meet and love our children as strangers give us courage to welcome the strangest stranger of them all--the God who meets us in Israel and Jesus Christ."