When I first came to Saint John’s and began working as the School of Theology·Seminary’s sacristan/liturgical coordinator, I was very skeptical of “hospitality ministers.” Sure, they handed out the worship aids and greeted people at the doors of the chapel, but why did that require a special minister? Could not people just pick up a worship aid from a table on their way in? Did people really need to be greeted at the door? Saint John’s talked a lot about the Benedictine value of hospitality, but was that Benedictine value really all that important?
After three years at Saint John’s, I have come to realize the importance of liturgical hospitality.
This was further confirmed for me today when I received Johan Van Parys’ responses for Pray Tell’s “Interviewing Liturgical Leaders” series. His responses will be posted next Tuesday. In one of his responses, he says: “We are absolutely committed to hospitality. No matter where people are at on their life’s journey we try our utmost best to make them feel welcome.”
A church is more than a building, it is a place where a community of people gather together to worship God. Liturgy is the manifestation of a community’s form of worship and adoration. We do not “do” liturgy by ourselves. Even when a priest or lay person prays the Office alone in their room, they are praying with the rest of the Church. Our prayer life and liturgies are always communal.
One of the central components of community is hospitality. Hospitality does not mean that anything goes. Rather, it is an openness to the other and a willingness to enter into relationship with them by welcoming them as a friend. Hospitality as a central component of community becomes a cornerstone of a community’s liturgical life. This is why liturgical hospitality should be carefully cultivated and hospitality ministers expertly trained.
How does your community foster liturgical hospitality? How does your community train hospitality ministers?
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