28 December 2018
World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit sent greetings to hundreds of young people from the Taize community as they gathered in Madrid from 28 December to 1 January to reflect on the theme “Let Us Not Forget Hospitality!”
Participants are observing the Taize’s 41st European Youth Encounter.
“With Taizé we see that ecumenism is not only about navigating differences or overcoming longstanding divisions among Christians,” wrote Tveit. “It is about fully experiencing the grounding that comes with shared faith, shared living, shared prayer and song and silence.”
In so many ways, Taizé embodies all that is best in the ecumenical movement, Tveit reflected.
“May these days be for you a time of meeting and growing friendship, a time of gracious sharing, a time of fellowship and spiritual learning, a time of inspiration and renewal,” he wrote.
“May they be, in other words, an encounter in which you receive and offer hospitality, so that, as the Bible says, you are no longer strangers but friends, and members of the larger household of God.”
Hospitality is not just a form of politeness, Tveit wrote. “Hospitality denotes not just a virtuous trait in us but a relationship into which we enter—of gracious and trusting welcome, mutuality and friendship, and sharing of food and shelter,” he wrote. “It inevitably involves vulnerability, too, and sometimes even risk.”
Hospitality is the widest, most all-encompassing form of love, Tveit concluded. “Never has such hospitable love—freely offered, humbly received—been needed as it is today,” he wrote.
“Whether in offering welcome to immigrants, safety to refugees, sustenance to the homeless and needy, or understanding and dialogue and empathy to those who are different from us, our loving hospitality can rescue lives, create community, and redeem the times.”