The title of this book is an apt description of what you will find under the cover. In this book, Carolyn Lacey rightly shows us that hospitality is broader than simply sharing meals with people. While doing this, she challenges us all (including herself) to demonstrate the hospitality God asks of us. The book is easy to read, and can be easily digested in small sections, making it accessible for the person who finds themselves time poor.
The book is broken up into seven short chapters with helpful reflection questions at the end. In each chapter, Lacey covers one of the seven ways she is challenging us to welcome like Jesus. The subtitles to her chapters tell us the topic of each: becoming generous (Chapter 1); becoming compassionate (Chapter 2); becoming humble (Chapter 3); becoming persistent (Chapter 4); becoming aware (Chapter 5); becoming inclusive (Chapter 6); and becoming sacrificial (Chapter 7).
There is much to like in this book, but the part that struck me most, was her attempt to make this relevant to all of us. Amongst the discussion of becoming sacrificial, we see Lacey drop in this practical and wise advice to us all:
Let me underline that this will look different for all of us. Consider your own capacity and remember the importance of rest (which God also commands us to do). You need to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do… we are not all called to make the same sacrifices as one another. The point is to be willing to make sacrifices where you can—while making sure you have time to rest, to worship and to be served yourself.
I would have preferred more nuance from Lacey when she alluded to (at end of p. 40) what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls the Divine Decree. It would be understandable if someone got confused at that point in her book, thinking that God’s ordaining of what comes to pass does violence to human will, and thus failing to take the comfort she was seeking to give.
That criticism aside, I found the book to be a helpful encouragement to hospitality. The parts that risk feeling rigid are balanced by the reminder that we need to be wise and attentive to our own circumstances and abilities. If you’re looking to stimulate your thinking on hospitality, consider reading this book.
Philip Foster, Buccleuch Free Church, Edinburgh