Practicing Hospitality

A tray laid with milk and sugar for tea

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful example of hospitality.

Over the years, mom has cooked countless meals for more people than we can remember.  From days living in an apartment to a mobile home to a house under construction to days busy with kids and their messes, none of this has stopped her from welcoming guests and making them feel at home.

I didn’t always appreciate this example and the practice I was getting along the way.

At one time, as we were cleaning up before people arrived I asked why we were going to so much trouble and pointed out that it wasn’t like the President was coming!

Needless to say, my impeccable logic did not deter her and we kept on cleaning…

Apparently, normal, everyday people are important enough to go to some effort for.

And much later, when I was older and should have known better, someone far from his home and family called on Christmas morning with Christmas greetings and was promptly invited to Christmas dinner along with his two friends whom we’d never met…

Overjoyed was not my reaction.

A little short on the Christmas spirit was more like it.  If it were up to me, I’d have followed the inn keeper and claimed that there was no room or not enough ham or something.

But mom said that if I were in some other country for a holiday, she’d hope that someone would invite me to share their celebration, so how could we do less?

Indeed.

How could we do less?

And if we’re practicing following Jesus, he encourages us in this as well.  In fact, he says that when we welcome others, we’re actually welcoming him.

But knowing that we’re supposed to practice it doesn’t make it any easier.  Maybe it just adds to the pressure of the nagging fear of rejection if the invitations are turned down or inadequacy if the food isn’t gourmet or the house isn’t perfect.  Culturally, we’re set up with the ideas of “entertaining” and “hosting” whatever exactly those things mean…

Maybe we need the Frugal Girl’s reminder that “It doesn’t have to be perfect to bless other people.”   If we wait for perfection before we are hospitable, we’ll be waiting forever!  And most people aren’t looking for perfection anyway.  It might just scare them away!

Some cultures have a deep tradition of hospitality and honoring guests, and I would guess that Jewish culture in first century Palestine was one of those.  Nonetheless, Peter found it necessary to remind folks to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling  (maybe not too different from what we need to hear today!) 😉 and the author of the letter to the Hebrews urges an extension of hospitality to those outside of our normal circle of friends, again something that’s often easier said than done although Jesus offers us similar advice.

And sometimes, maybe hospitality is more about sitting and listening than anything else.

Instead of starting with 5 courses in a perfectly manicured garden, if we started with sitting and listening, making the time and space for this, maybe we could get somewhere with our practicing….

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. oh yes! I always have to remind myself of the “it doesn’t have to be perfect” thing when it comes to hospitality.

  2. Lisa G. says:

    This is so good! (but I doubt *that* innkeeper was serving ham!)

    You did have a wonderful example – I’m just reading “The Hiding Place” (finally) and am impressed by Mrs. Ten Boom’s hospitality of that type. And tomorrow is St. Benedict’s feast – doesn’t his rule speak of hospitality?

    1. dwellrichly says:

      Thanks for the tip! St. Benedict’s Rule does speak of hospitality!

      According to the English translation I found, it reads,

      “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ,
      for He is going to say,
      “I came as a guest, and you received Me” (Matt. 25:35).

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