R.J. Matson, Roll Call

Century Marks

Christian cover-up: A Presbyterian church in a small Wisconsin town hosted the funeral of a Jew because there was no synagogue in the area. The church agreed to drape a cloth over the cross in the sanctuary so as not to offend the Jewish mourners. Although this was a controversial decision within the congregation, Thomas E. Reynolds argues that it demonstrated genuine Christian hospitality. Avoiding the extremes of condescension on the one hand or complete acquiescence toward the stranger on the other, hospitality involves making space for the other so that the line between host and guest blurs. A role reversal follows: the host becomes dependent and vulnerable in relation to the guest. “Once the stranger is invited in, the host yields stability and control, adjusting the household to accommodate and attend to the unique needs of the guest as they become apparent” (Theology Today, July).

 

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