It was during my recent weeping years, as I’ve come to call them, that God introduced himself to me in a new way.
Raised in the Methodist tradition, I first learned of God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost. In prayer one day, much to my surprise and delight, God revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Host. In doing so, he spoke my language, captured my attention and healed my aching soul.
Hello, and welcome! I’m honored to share this space with you. Here in this little carved-out corner we’re going to chat about all things hospitality. So pull up a chair, my friend, and I’ll put the kettle on the stove.
My husband and I have made hospitality the heartbeat of our marriage as we’ve opened our home to throw parties, host internationals and have others live with us.
In fact, for the past 31 years we’ve lived alone as a nuclear family for only a handful of months. We are well-seasoned hosts.
So imagine my surprise when, after a lifetime of offering hospitality, God introduced himself to me as a Host — the Host revealed throughout all of Scripture.
How had I not seen this before?
God, the Holy Host. The Host who waits for and longs for us, who runs to gather us up in his goodness.
The Father, Son and Holy Host who feeds us till we want no more.
God, the Welcoming One at whose table and in whose presence we are healed.
During the previously mentioned weeping years, my husband and I lost parents, jobs, finances, communities, plans, dreams, hopes and health. We went from being hosts to being hosted. Hosted by a new community of faith. Hosted by generous strangers.
But mostly, hosted by God himself.
During this time, I had a front-row seat to the healing that is central to hospitality. The word itself shares a Latin root with that of “hospital,” and I can now testify that it also shares its definition: “Offering a place and space where strangers who suffer can come and be cared for.”
Throughout my life, I’ve looked to the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of this kind of healing hospitality. However, I’ve incorrectly cast myself as the Samaritan, and my neighbors as the wounded. Sometimes this may be true, but mostly it is not.
I’m not the center of the story. In fact, these weeping years have found me playing the role of the beaten traveler. A role for which I certainly never auditioned but am, perhaps, more perfectly suited.
The truth is, I don’t want to be the traveler. My preferred role is the healer, the helper, the hero, the host. Like many of us, I’m more comfortable in the position of the giver. But that role belongs to one much more worthy than me.
I believe the Samaritan of Jesus’ parable to be none other than Jesus himself. I met him one day on the dusty road with my wounds spilling out. He bent down low, scooped me up and whispered his name in my ear: Father, Son and Holy Host.
The weeping years have been worth their weight in gold, for they have carried me to the hospital that is God. To the place and space where strangers who suffer can come to be cared for. It is here that I was introduced to our Holy Host. Here, I was healed.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus instructs us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But in John 15:12 he also instructs us to love them the way we’ve been loved by him.
So, friend, may you be loved by him. This is my grandest prayer.
May the Holy Host introduce himself to you and bring you to his table. May you know the bending, tending and mending of God. Then may you, like him, stop, stoop and step in close to aid fellow travelers along the way.
Jenny Gehman is a freelance writer and retreat speaker who publishes a weekly devotional, Little Life Words, at jennygehman.com. She and her husband, Dan, serve as elders at Millersville Mennonite Church in Pennsylvania and enjoy hosting friends and strangers from around the world.