This post is one of seven reflections on the whole narrative of the Bible as a story of God’s hospitality. To read these posts in order, click here.
In the beginning there was emptiness.
Not a friendly emptiness, just emptiness. But the God of hospitality had too strong a desire for welcome to leave everything as emptiness, so God began to create—first a space (let’s call that space “space,” though this story is exclusively focused on one of the planets in this giant space) and then creatures to welcome into that space (trees and flowers, cats and dogs, etc.).
And then, God welcomed into existence a couple people. However, God’s hospitality was too great to merely welcome the people into being, so God then invited them into creation—not just the place, but the process as well. God gives them the task of creating names for each of the other creatures, and then invites them to create families and cities. “Be fruitful and multiply!”; essentially, “Make yourself at home.”
Similarly, God invites these first humans into divine hospitality, not as mere recipients but as full participants. They are not left alone in God’s big space—after all, “it’s not good for man to be alone.” They are made as gifts to one another; listen to the jubilation in Adam’s voice when he first meets Eve! And, the gift of their presence is likewise appreciated and reciprocated by God, who welcomes them in person with late-evening garden strolls. The hospitality that fuels the eternal Father-Son-Spirit friendship that sparked the universe binds together the trinity of man, woman, and God.
From the start, humanity is welcomed into creation as free and authentically present, as earth’s co-hosts and co-creators. We are given a space, a friendly emptiness, endlessly occupied—but never over-crowded—by our heavenly Host and Creator. God’s space overlaps with our space, God’s self is made entirely accessible, and God’s hospitality is entrusted to us as God’s image-bearers and friends.
But hospitality is always accompanied by risk.
For further, better reading, I suggest the first couple pages of the Bible.