Spiritual Practice


Melissa Tidwell

Years ago I stumbled into a little church in Atlanta called Clifton Presbyterian, which had undertaken a remarkable ministry by opening the doors of the church and inviting homeless men to come inside. When I first visited there, I saw that there were no pews in the sanctuary, just a circle of folding chairs. The church had removed the pews to make room for the homeless guests. Seeing this made the word sanctuary mean something real to me.

When I worshiped in that space, the stack of foam rubber mattresses piled up in the corner and the smell of lunch cooking in the kitchen made me feel close to God like no other place did. It was sometimes noisy and chaotic, and the roof leaked. The congregation was very small, and resources were strained. But it was a school for holiness to me.

The spiritual practice of hospitality is direct, immediate, hands-on. You can’t outsource it. It’s about presence, looking another human being in the eye and showing that you care, that you understand how we are all related and interdependent. We can’t pay back the love we have been given much of the time, so we pay it forward, pass it on, trusting God to work out the details if we show up with hot coffee and a warm heart.

From pages 68-69 of Embodied Light: Advent Reflections on the Incarnation by Melissa Tidwell. Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Tidwell. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.

Back To Home

To Order Devozine Magazine, call 1.800.972.0433.