Skip to content

Community Promises

Community Promises

Andrei Rublev’s Icon

Hospitality, generosity, simplicity, authenticity, humility and courage.

These words are shaping our life at St. Oswald’s. They are not a statement of faith. What we believe is held in the liturgies we use and in the Apostles’ creed in particular. Rather, the words describe our underlying purpose and the way we aim to live as a community.

Hospitality is our work, our ‘common demanding task’ (George McLeod) which we try to practice with generosity, simplicity, authenticity, humility and courage.


The work of the St. Oswald’s Community is hospitality.

We aim to provide a safe, hospitable space for visitors and community alike. By so doing, we hope that a sense of ‘home coming’ develops. Home coming to God, self, others and creation.

We can only welcome others because we have first received a welcome from God.

Andrei Rublev’s icon gives a picture of the ‘God of the table’ who welcomes us into the life of the Trinity. In this community we spend time together at the communion table, dining table and ‘work bench’. They are tables where God welcomes us and we welcome others.

Hospitality is about our guests. We aim to practice hospitality in everything we do. For example, the way we respond to guest enquiries; how rooms and food are prepared; the way we look after the flora and fauna on site; how we pray together and our conversations with guests and each other.

We endeavour to remember that ‘the interruptions are the work’, so we will try to be available, on occasion, to sit and chat with our guests. We will seek to give them our full attention when we’re with them. We will attempt to respond to their need for space and distance from us as well, not overwhelming them with too many words, or intrusive questioning. In essence, we will work towards showing them something of the warmth of welcome that God has shown us by giving us creation as a home.

Hospitality is also about St. Oswald’s Community. The work of caring for our guests is something the whole community is involved in. We understand that some of our guests will want more time than we, as individual community members, are able to give because we have other work to attend to. It is alright to limit our time with them, either because we need to get on with other work, or because we are at the limit of how much we are able to give.

At its best offering hospitality will also ‘unbend’ us. We will change as we encounter other ways of thinking and being. Sometimes this will challenge us and may make us feel uncomfortable.


[Leader] Offering hospitality has many different expressions.  As a community will you give those you meet a safe, hospitable welcome? Will you try to be attentive and kind to your guests but not overwhelm them?

Will you also choose to act wisely when you reach the limit of your ability to be hospitable, temporarily withdrawing and letting another member of the Community take your place?

[All] With God’s help, this is how we will try to live.

Hospitality is ‘the work of our hands’. Other words – generosity, simplicity, authenticity, humility and courage describe the quality of the hospitality that we are aiming to give.


Generosity is at the core of who God is. Hebrew Scripture teaches that provision is made for the ‘outsider’ the ‘other’, even for our enemies. In the Gospels Jesus explains, through his life and words what this generosity might look like. He spoke of banquets and parties; of outrageous welcome; he turned excessive amounts of water into wine and preached and practiced extravagant forgiveness towards His enemies. In the end Jesus opened His arms wide on the cross, expressing a generous invitation to each of us to ‘come home’ to our Creator.

Generosity is about accepting and making space for ‘the other’; not judging, but listening carefully and responding lovingly.

It is about being generous with our ‘wealth’ ie that which we possess. This may include being generous with our money, but it is also about being generous with our skills, words, gifts and time. Making time to sit and talk with others may be costly when there are other things we would rather be doing, but generosity is about trying to give time freely, without begrudging it to those we’re with.

Generosity comes from the heart, but it is also a choice. It is infectious and it sometimes has unexpected effects.

At its core it’s about being willing to share something of who we are with others, knowing that this will be costly but rewarding.


[Leader] Will you try to live generously, making space for others and offering your ‘wealth’? Will you aim to do this freely? There will be times when it will be difficult and so will you pray for help to follow the example of our generous God? 

[All] With God’s help, this is how we will try to live.


Jesus said ‘love God, love each other’ – a simple, but not simplistic statement which will be an ongoing challenge for us to put into practice. In a world where consumerism is a dominating force we choose to walk more humbly.

We aim for our worship to be ‘simple’. We hold a daily rhythm of prayer. This regular prayer sustains us in our work, providing natural pauses in the day and an opportunity to remember that the work we do is in partnership with God. Each day we offer God the ‘work of our hands’ and ask that it be blessed. Our prayer times offer a quiet space and an opportunity to pray for ourselves, our community and the world.

We also try to live simply. We are working together with local people and agencies to develop the grounds as a hospitable place for the flora and fauna on our site. We are gardening organically and seeking to create a welcoming home for animals and insects. We prepare our food lovingly and eat seasonally and locally where possible.We will carefully consider our purchasing choices paying attention to how they affect creation and the lives of others.

In our conversations we will try to stay focussed on listening rather than endlessly talking about ourselves and our ideas.


[Leader] Will you try to live simply, paying attention to the needs of others as well as your own needs? Will you aim for public worship to be uncluttered and simple and for your conversations to be focussed on ‘the other’? Will you wisely look after the little bit of creation with which you have been entrusted?

[All] With God’s help, this is how we will try to live.


It is our aim to live ‘truthful’ lives working towards our ‘inside and our outside matching’. This is a step towards being at peace with God and ourselves. It is a hard journey to make, but we believe that if we attempt to walk this way it may enable our guests to make the journey too.


[Leader] Will you try to live openly and honestly, speaking truth among yourselves and to God?

[All] With God’s help, this is how we will try to live.


Originally the word humility meant ‘being grounded or earthy’. Living humbly suggests that we are realistic about ourselves (neither being overly negative about ourselves, or thinking that we’re the centre of the universe). As a community we know that being ‘down to earth’ is important. Unobtainable spiritual ideals have no place here – rather we try to see the presence of God in the ordinary tasks of each day. As Romans 12: 1-2 puts it ‘Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.’ (The Message)


[Leader] Will you ground yourselves in ordinary tasks, offering them to God as your worship? Will you listen carefully to the ideas of others, knowing they may have wisdom to share with you? Will you risk sharing your ideas with others as a humble offering of yourselves?

[All] With God’s help, this is how we will try to live.


We have set out on an adventure and we don’t know where it will take us. This requires us to ‘hold our nerve’ when we can’t see what comes next and the task seems too difficult. We will listen to the wisdom of the wise and the good to help us see our way ahead when it appears obscure. We will try to be strong-hearted and thoughtful when we have to make decisions about the future of the community. We know that we fly on fragile wings, courageous and a little bit scared.


[Leader] Will you dare to ‘come to the edge’ of your experience in the expectation that God will push you and you will fly?

[All] With God’s help, this is how we will try to live.

St. Oswald’s Community, Sleights – September 2022

(With reference to George MacLeod and Christopher Logue)