Hospitality, generosity, and toilet seats

Hospitality comes in many forms and generosity shows itself in unusual places, as guest poster Carla Sandburg illustrates in an article that she admits was written in a “feisty” moment. Carla is co-superintendent of the East Ohio District of the Church of the Nazarene and president of Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy.  You can read Carla’s blog and follow her on Twitter.

The Toilet Seat in First-Class

I happened to be on a rather lengthy flight this morning from Phoenix to Detroit. I was pleasantly surprised when I was upgraded to First-Class where they tend to spoil you rotten. However, when I board flights, I usually notice who is in the line for Business/First-Class and the overwhelming majority is almost always men. I’m guessing they are for the most part businessmen. There are a few women sprinkled here and there, but they certainly make up the minority.

Interestingly, when using the lavatory on this flight, I noticed something quite different than in Economy Class. The toilet seat was always left up. Now I’m okay with putting the seat down. I can do that. But I wondered if it spoke to something more. Are we simply so accustomed to First-Class being filled with men that without thinking about it, we simply act like only men are present?

In many ways, First-Class represents the people of power. The people of power become comfortable in their personal routines and sometimes forget that there may be others around who are not the same. There may need to be accommodations made by the people of power to allow those who are not like them to feel comfortable and welcomed.

For the most part, we expect those who are new to do the accommodating, but is this truly practicing Christian hospitality? Hospitality has traditionally been seen as a spiritual discipline and a virtue of the Christian life. Hospitality means more than having people over and enjoying a nice meal. Instead, it means that we invite people to the table as equals. We do everything that we can to accommodate things for them, so that they feel at home and welcomed.

This issue is not just about gender, but reaches to every group who is not included in the people of power. It means making welcome all ethnic groups, nationalities, and generations. All should feel at home and welcomed, as if space were created specifically with them in mind.

This is the practice of hospitality which will be seen in its ultimate completion at the marriage supper of the Lamb. In the meantime, we must be intentional to help all feel comfortable even in First-Class.

What's your take on this topic?

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