My friend Piers sent me this poem and reflection drawing on the Rule of Saint Benedict and its relevance to the Lambeth Conference of the worldwide Anglican Church.
I was drawn to dwell on hospitality by recent events surrounding the Anglican Lambeth Conference which began on 26 July 2022. Anglican Bishops and their spouses from around the world have been invited to Canterbury to worship and pray together and to explore a range of topics. I was saddened that partners and spouses of gay and lesbian bishops were not invited and this set me thinking about what true hospitality looks like. St Benedict writes about hospitality in his Rule: in Chapter 53 he says,
‘All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35). Proper honour must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims. Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all the courtesy of love.’
I also found this useful commentary by Jerome Kodell, OSB in which it becomes clear that, for St Benedict at least, there is a lack of pre-judgement and a defencelessness about true Christian hospitality.
So my poem comes not as a rebuke, but as a plea – that we welcome others with true generosity so that all may feel settled and at ease. Only then can we feel safe enough to speak and to explore together.
My prayers are with all involved in the Lambeth Conference over the next few days.