Radical hospitality


“Be our guest!”

Does this image look familiar? Most of us have seen the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast. Maybe it was during our childhood, perhaps we caught it when we were babysitting, or even as an adult who couldn’t help but love animated cartoon animals and household gadgets that teach life lessons while simultaneously singing and dancing.

Amidst the twirling teapots and sashaying silver wear, I think all of us can admit that we were dying at the chance to receive an invitation to dine at the Beast’s castle. When that symphony of place settings belted, “Be our guest! Be our guest!” we were all secretly shouting, “Yes! Please, pick me!”

If you don’t remember this feeling when you first watched Beauty and the Beast, I’ll confess that this was my reaction. When I was 6, the chance to dine with Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs. Pots would have been reason enough. However, looking back on this fanciful scene, I realize there is greater meaning than I once thought. The characters reveal to us what is means to show radical hospitality.

Now, most of us don’t greet our dinner guests with choreographed numbers, nor should we, but we do have the potential to really make them feel wanted, to show them that we’re excited to be sharing our homes with them for the evening. I’m not suggesting that it has to be an exhausting effort to show your enthusiasm; I’m asking you to think about whether you truly are happy to treat your loved ones to a home-cooked meal, that you are mindful of the awesome experience that you create when you ask people to join you around the table.

Yes, our weeks are busy and most times we throw our hands up in praise when we make it do the dinner table after a long day of work, but are our lives that busy that we can’t express our love for one another by inviting friends to the table for a single night’s meal? And more than that, are we too caught up in our own lives that we forget to act out the joy we feel when we gather together in communion?

Maybe it’s time that we pull out our VHS copies of Beauty and the Beast and rekindle that magic of what it’s liked to be treated as a guest!

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