Some of us from Moot are helping out at the Dekhomai stand at Body, Mind, Spirit Fair running from Wednesday to Monday in London this week. I have just done two stints on Wednesday and Thursday and wanted to share some thoughts on what it means to practice hospitality and mission in this kind of public space. The ethos of Dekhomai (which means welcoming place) is to be Christ’s presence, to listen to people, to offer hospitality, to offer everything as gift (we don’t charge unlike most of the other stands). On the stall we offer various practices from the Christian Tradition of spirituality: healing prayer, blessing prayer, making prayer beads, Jesus deck, massage for foot and hand, and some beautiful post cards on practices like ‘the examen, the jesus prayer, forgiveness etc. I did this last year and was very encouraged by some of the interactions I had with people and this year my confidence in this kind of practice of mission has increased. I have experienced forms of mission where the emphasis often feels like ‘trying to get a message across through a particular formula of words’, where both parties often feel uncomfortable and forced. My experience at Dekhomai was very different and I felt completely relaxed and trusting in the Holy Spirit, which often means not saying too much! When we offer hospitality our attention is turned to the other person, to hear their story and share something of our own, it is an exchange which enriches both parties, where differences as well as similarities are acknowledged and respected.
What came home to me was how the church of God is much bigger than we think. Two examples of conversations I had that illustrate this:
Discussing the practice of healing prayer with a man who is a healer in a spiritualist church: his practice was to ‘reach out to the cosmic energy of the universe’ for the other person, sometimes praying ‘in the name of Christ’ in his heart. His wisdom was that people don’t get everything they ask for but they often receive what they need, that it does not work like a slot machine, that he felt that there is often too much pressure for healing to occur in pentecostal style services where results are pushed to the extent of being false. His experience of the church was going to a Christian Union as a young man at university but being turned off when he found out that a group were praying for his conversion ‘behind his back’.
Another conversation was with an older woman who quoted the Kings James Bible: ‘fret not thyself because of evil doers’ and how hard she finds it to love those who are not loving or good. She shared how an agonizing and crippling fall had caused her to pray in earnest and trust God in a much deeper way. She was so pleased to find us doing the stall ‘for love’ and not for money.
Reflecting on the train coming home I realise that when I am at the stall I am open to God and others in an intentional way, that I step into the Kingdom of God in a way that is life enhancing, giving and receiving. I reflect that I need to step into this kind of space with others as an ‘intentional practice’ at least once a week – in order to carry it with me into the rest of life.
I realise how much I want the arts cafe lounge to happen so that I can know more of this life and blessing.