Letty M. Russell, a feminist theologian, the author of 14 books, and a longtime member of the Yale Divinity School faculty, died in 2007. Many said that her middle name was "hospitality." J. Shannon Clarkson and Kate M. Ott are the editors of this paperback, which was not completed when she died. Early on they point to Russell's definition of hospitality as "the practice of God's welcome, embodied in our actions as we reach across difference to participate with God in bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis."

Although growing up "in the center" helped Russell form her Christian faith and commitment, she claims that "living in the margins" shaped her theology, teaching, and writing. She saw herself as a misfit for her entire life and ministry as an educator, pastor, ecumenist, and theologian. Whereas many would not recognize the value of being a misfit, this flinty woman believed that that role enabled her to grasp the significance of hospitality and to honor difference from the perspective of the stranger. Russell calls the church to a mending ministry and to include those "missing persons" who have been afflicted by poverty, injustice, and suffering.

Difference has been used as a tool for domination around the world where the stranger or the "other" has been humiliated, excluded, silenced or oppressed. But Christianity has another understanding:

"Differences of race, gender, sexual orientation, language, or culture are not problems to be resolved and controlled by a dominant group. Rather they are important ways of assuring that God's gift of riotous diversity in all creation will continue. In fact, these differences are gifts in themselves. God's gift lets new voices be heard and languages and cultures flourish."

Russell contends that the spiritual practice of hospitality enables us to envision an expression of unity without uniformity where differences in community are honored. She expands on this thought with a chapter on reframing hospitality as the unexpected divine presence, advocacy for the marginalized, mutual welcome, and creation of community. In a final chapter, she delineates "just hospitality" as solidarity with those who are different from ourselves and making the pursuit of justice as an essential ingredient in this spiritual practice.