This past week I have been focusing on the crisis of the thousands of refugee children at the border who are being held in detention centers. I have blogged about praying for these children and sending them letters, and distributed an e-bulletin about ways your congregation can support them. All of these suggestions are centered around showing hospitality to children who have crossed into the United States without their families. My suggestions have included donating money, clothes, writing letters and holding them up in prayer. But what if we were called to do more? The idea of “radical hospitality” is one that differs drastically from ordinary practices and goes beyond expectations. What would it mean not to just welcome these children into our country, but to receive them with revolutionary generosity.
Practicing radical hospitality is a demanding undertaking. It requires us to question the moral dimension of our spiritual practices — how we receive others and stand in solidarity with them — especially among people who are on the margins of society, or in this case not integrated into our society. One example of a place practicing this type of radical hospitality is Maryland. This week, Governor Martin O’Malley and a group of faith leaders agreed that thousands of immigrant children would be welcome into Maryland and housed in foster homes and other small settings, rather than large centers as the government has proposed. This sort of response from both the faith community and government leaders is a prophetic witness to the transformative power of hospitality.
Radical hospitality has not only social but also political and economic implications. If every state demonstrated hospitality like what is happening in Maryland, we could house all of the children on the border. Instead of limiting our practice of hospitality to outreach and charity, why can’t we exercise our commitment to justice by resisting unjust structures of power and becoming living sanctuaries of God’s love? Consider ways that we could exercise radical hospitality, whether it is individually fostering a child, congregationally welcoming groups of immigrants in need, or collectively as a state following in the example of Maryland. Radical hospitality is imperative because we live in a world in which children need homes and communities of support, and in offering this our faith becomes deeper and our world grows fuller and richer.