“Hospitality.” The word is derived from a Latin root denoting friendliness to guests. It is the making of space for the stranger, the warm welcome of the outsider.
The call to hospitality is at the very center of the Christian life. Indeed, it is so important to Christian ethics that Jesus points to the demonstration of hospitality as the mark of distinction between false and true disciples (Matthew 25:31-46). The sheep, Jesus says, are those who provide food and drink to the outsider. They invite him in. When he suffers they comfort him. When he’s imprisoned they visit him. The goats do none of these things.
On June 4, 2013, the City of Abbotsford, BC went to extraordinary measures to deal with their homeless population. The city, often referred to as the buckle of Canada’s Bible belt, summarily evicted homeless people from the empty lot where they had been tenting … and then spread chicken manure over the ground to ensure they didn’t come back.
An act borne of civic frustration, perhaps. But at every conceivable level a basic failure of biblical hospitality.
In his new film “The Chicken Manure Incident”, documentary filmmaker Kevin Miller explores the various dimensions of this unfortunate act and what it tells us about the homeless, the church, and the wider society. In this episode of The Tentative Apologist Podcast we sit down with Kevin to discuss the film and the challenges of homelessness as we consider what it means to follow Jesus in the extension of hospitality to all people.