The Joy of Hospitality, Part 2

Aren’t you glad God is creative? As humans made in His image, we get to participate in that creative spirit. And one of the ways we get to be creative is with hospitality!

Hospitality means “love of strangers” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). With that definition in mind, there are many ways to show love to one another. The definition also reminds us that we are to show hospitality to everyone–not just close friends and family.

When people think of hospitality, they usually think of having people in their home for a meal or overnight. And that is a wonderful way to show hospitality. It is an especially wonderful way to get to know people one doesn’t know well.

But what if your home is too small or under construction. Or perhaps you work crazy hours. Or maybe there is a new baby or a sick child. Does that mean we cannot be hospitable? Of course not! There are many creative ways to show hospitality (love) to others.

Here is a list of some of the ways I’ve practiced hospitality or had hospitality shown to me:

  • Have someone over for a meal
  • Open up your home for someone to spend the night
  • Take a meal to someone who is shut-in
  • Invite someone over for lunch or tea or dessert–this would be easier than planning a whole meal (especially if you just serve brownies and ice cream).
  • If you have the money, take someone out to eat
  • Go on a picnic, hike, and/or play date at the park
  • Invite someone to go with you to a play, concert, or museum
  • The options are endless. What matters is you are spending quality one-on-one time with someone.

One of the ways I’ve made it easier to have people over for lunch is by having a set menu. I’m not kidding. It may seem a bit cheesy, but if you come over for lunch, you will probably have chicken and grape salad sandwiches or taco salad. They are two of our favorite lunches, easy to make, and I usually have the ingredients on hand. Knowing what I’m going to make takes the stress out of planning a meal, especially if it ends up being spontaneous.

I know some people have a set hospitality menu for dinner as well. I’m not consistent with that, but Friday night is always pizza night at our house, so if you are invited over on a Friday night, it will be pizza. (My husband is devastated if I serve anything else on Fridays.) And if we need to come up with a dessert in a hurry, we always make brownies with his grandma’s peppermint frosting or serve ice cream in my cute mini glass trifle bowls.

It may sound strange to have a set menu, but most people don’t care what you serve. They are just thrilled to have someone show an interest in them. A couple of weeks ago we had a couple over for Friday night supper. It was just pizza and salad, but you’d have thought it was lasagna or a roast beef dinner. They were so appreciative!

I used to think my house had to be spotless. No one could come over unless I’d dusted and vacuumed everything. I still try to have my house clean. People should feel comfortable, and it’s hard to feel comfortable if you are tripping over toys or have to move laundry in order to sit down. But I’ve relaxed a lot. If I wait for the perfect time, the spotless home, or the Pinterest-inspired dinner menu, I’ll never have anyone over. If that happens, my family will be missing out on one of God’s greatest blessings and commands.

 

The Joy of Hospitality, Part 1

And that is the wonder of hospitality. It doesn’t matter whether you serve roast turkey or pizza. It doesn’t make a difference if you use china or paper plates. People are starved for meaningful relationships–for communication that goes deeper than texts and Facebook and a “How are you,” “I’m fine” exchange on Sunday morning.

One of the greatest blessings in my life is sharing our home with others. Sharing a meal, a conversation, or just some dessert, or a walk in the park. No matter how we do it, hospitality is a blessing–one I’ve learned to love sharing with others.

But I didn’t always think of it as a blessing.

Initially it was scary. I felt vulnerable. What would I say? What would we do? What would they think of our home, the food, the conversation. What if they were bored! I made excuses. I put it off. I even made my husband make the invitation! Hospitality terrified me.

(I’m shy. I really am. Okay, maybe I’m just insecure!)

But we kept doing it . . . and doing it . . . and doing it.

And then I realized something. And it was revolutionary!

I hate parties. I’m horrible at small talk. I get that horrible pit-in-my-stomach feeling in large social situations. But in my home it is different. It is smaller, more intimate, more personal. I can relax. I’m okay in small groups. (In fact, I prefer them.) In the right setting, small talk gives way to something deeper–true, meaningful communication. And that is what my soul craves.

Yes, I have to make it through the first few minutes of pleasantries. But my husband is there. He is the master of small talk. Of asking questions. Of making others feel at ease and important. I’m so grateful for him.

I can tag along. Gradually I start to relax. The conversation becomes deeper. The fellowship more meaningful. And instead of feeling drained, I find myself being filled.

And that is the wonder of hospitality. It doesn’t matter whether you serve roast turkey or pizza. It doesn’t make a difference if you use china or paper plates. People are starved for meaningful relationships–for communication that goes deeper than texts and Facebook and a “How are you,” “I’m fine” exchange on Sunday morning.

It doesn’t even matter if my house is clean. (I’m still working on letting that truth sink in; it may take a while!) When I open up my home, I’m opening up myself. I’m showing someone s/he is important to me. And everyone wants to feel valued.

Perhaps that is why Peter mentions hospitality in connection with brotherly love:

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (I Peter 4:8-10a).

Hospitality is an act of love. Love is an action, remember? It grows as I act on it. And love is serving. As I serve, I show I care. As I care, I learn to love.

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

(Stay tuned. Next week, I’ll talk about some simple ways to show hospitality you can implement no matter how crazy your life or home is at present.)