Spontaneous hospitality

Some short thoughts.

On Sunday, my meeting spent some time reflecting on the question ‘What is our ministry?’. It was a really fruitful discussion and many people expressed how much they’d enjoyed it. It was preceded by a share meal, something readers of my blog will know I’m very keen on! I think there was a hunger to have more shared meals, something I’m more than happy to help make happen.

In a previous post, I wrote about ‘Sunday club’ syndrome. This is where coming to meeting for worship is one spiritual practice of many, and a deeper commitment to the fellow worshipers is not required or even desired. I’m convinced that this syndrome is present in my meeting. I’m not sure what to do about it, but it’s something to be aware of.

‘Sunday club’ syndrome does nothing to challenge lateness to meeting, something our meeting struggles with. It also does nothing to inspire spontaneous hospitality. My partner spoke to me after the meeting on Sunday, saying that, with all our forward planning, we shouldn’t forget the importance of spontaneity. The social nature of Quakerism demands that we involve ourselves in the lives of our fellow worshipers. We must know each other in the things that are temporal as well as eternal. There is a lot to be said for the unexpected invitation to lunch.

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3 thoughts on “Spontaneous hospitality

  1. Thanks, Mark, I enjoyed this.

    Lateness for meeting is a bugbear of mine, and something that I love about our Sunday meeting, where people are more on time, compared to the Wednesday one, where they’re not. To some extent it’s understandable when people are coming from work, but I do sometimes think “If I can manage to get here on time, why not the others?” Then I usually feel a bit guilty and judgemental, then I feel a bit wishy-washy for minding that I’m being guilty and judgemental, and in the end I usually get to feeling so befuddled that I don’t do or say anything.

    It does seem to me that community expresses itself in different ways. I’m less bothered by the lack of spontaneous hospitality because we have members and attenders coming from all over London, and the practicalities are somewhat more challenging. I think you and I spoke before about the Living our Faith Groups we have at my meeting, and that monthly commitment to meeting, eating and sharing with others in the meeting I might not otherwise have talked to has been pretty good for me, though at times it feels like it’s something we should rotate the membership of from time to time, like dinner guests all moving two spaces to the left.

    Finally, I’d add that the other role that does slightly break down the Sunday Club mentality is having Quaker business to do, as long as it’s supported by a decent noms process and a commitment to not letting people stay in roles forever and a day. I’m on Noms at the moment and not only have met people I didn’t know before through the committee itself, but also am much more aware of the need to listen and get to know those I haven’t talked to before. I think this is one thing I do really value about Quakerism: the ‘get on and do it yourself, there’s no one else going to do it’ mentality.

    (Of course, as my CofE churchwardening, PCC-sitting mum would probably point out, that exists elsewhere too. But I’m not counting it, because Quakers are obviously lots cooler 😉 )

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