Friday, February 12, 2010

dumb animals

the art of hospitality may seem simplistic. sadly, however, it is not. the common mistake so many handily make is not on the extension side but rather on the receiving side. as a recipient of gracious hospitality on this wonderful island of guadeloupe i have observed not that the ambassadors of the church are extremely humble, gracious, and unselfish. trust me they are all of those qualities. but rather what steps i must take to further strengthen the relationship. it would be just like an american from the united states to expect this type of hospitality. and maybe there are some who feel they do not deserve such gracious service. maybe yet still there are some who believe they are in no way going to allow someone to carry their bags for them, open car doors, provide all the meals, and drive them wherever they want when ever they want. hospitality is culturally bound. in the united states, men may open the door for women...maybe. there is a degree of respect in the united states for difference in gender which provokes one to be hospitable and serve others. even still in europe, the cultures are very similar but i have noticed in observance of a guests arrival and the proper procedures upon dinner, or eating of any meal, is to wait and stand upon arrival of said guest. maybe you don't do these things, or if your european and they seem unfamiliar, it is not because it doesn't happen it is because your understanding of hospitality is limited to your experience and external teaching. i am not different in this educational process. i too don't follow all of the cultural norms and etiquette as close or as much as i should towards my fellow man. so the challenge i am presented with in this country is very real.

previously in trips of invitation, or being a guest of honor, the way i am treated is very very very wonderful. i could say about every place i have been, "this is the most hospitable country i have ever traveled!" i am forced, upon conversation with my common friends, to reveal how i was received and treated and i truly and honestly could not say that is was different than other times i have traveled. i do not want to say it was better there, or it was better in this place, or that. gods design of hospitality was not mean to be a one sided avenue. there is a response that must be given. in what form i am not sure of but in my most recent experience i believe it requires my attention to how my comment or response to hospitality will change the dynamic of the relationship. i know an example is needed here.

those that are hosting me in this church speak french...i do not, yet. what i have noticed is that if i mention i like something, or mention i would like to go to a location we might notice an immediate detour for that location. this is the urgency and desire of service that these people have on their hearts. is it gifting, or is it trained? i mention a good wine that i favored and the very next day i would find it gift wrapped for me to take home. one evening volcanic ash covered the ground quite similar to the snow fall i had missed in texas. as we approached the building to the church for the service you could anticipate an individual with an umbrella ready to usher us in without one spot of ash on our person.

it spoke to me. it yelled at me. it upper cut me in the face. the moment i thought this service was not real and would give way to true human character of self seeking i was awestruck with another exhibition of humility. the most endearing lesson i have ever learned. these people followed there orders given without question, or if they questioned they petitioned it to god...and not the pastor. look at yourself. look at your service. i am well aware of faults of my leaders and i am well aware of what i would like things to look like or how i think they should run. to have a shepherd who you follow without question is not to deny your ability, on the contrary, you will not be anybody significant without a shepherd to guide you. to question your leader reveals a great deal of distrust and insecurity in your own heart in the god you claim to serve. we all have an issue with submission. and i mean we all do. i know leaders mislead, take advantage, misguide, and give horrible counsel quite regularly. especially in this wonderfully blessed nation we live in we find that what we value as freedom actually gives credentials for a great deal of misguided leadership an opportunity to flourish and further create a hard heart amongst other selfish people. this creates dissension inside the church which has root in every congregation and feeds the philosophy of independence. it's message resounds from every corner. if you want to be anybody you must do it on your own. this is not the kingdom i so hope to be apart. we all like sheep have gone astray. and if i have learned anything about sheep in my study i have learned that sheep are dumb animals who need guiding.

the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want.
he makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters.
he restores my soul;
he guides me in the path of righteousness
for his name's sake

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