Thursday, November 14, 2013

You + Me = Hospitality

Picture with me: you have been invited over to someone's house that you don't really know. When you arrive, your hostess is dressed up, her house is perfectly decorated, the table is set with fine china and table decor, and she puts out a spread fit for a king. However, she's too busy making the meal to talk much, and she's too worried about the table and food looking perfect to sit still for long and talk with you over the food. Uncomfortable,  right? But somehow, in this day and age, that's what we expect from ourselves if we are going to be hospitable. I want to challenge that view. 

Picture with me a group of mugs. They are very different. We have your basic styrofoam, a couple ceramic ones, and even some beautiful fine china. If you were going to pick your favorite to drink a delicious cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea, you'd probably pick one that is beautiful on the outside.  But we need to realize that what's on the outside doesn't matter. What matters is that they all serve the same purpose. They hold the delicious drinks that we want to drink. In the same way, what's inside hospitality is what really matters, not necessarily the way it's presented.

Instead of throwing out hospitality all together, as many do, because it's too Complicated and hard, we need to consider some possibilities about hospitality that will show us that we can all be hospitable.

1. The first possibility is that hospitality can be simple!

When you go over to your best friend's house, does it matter whether she fixed herself and her house up before you arrived? No! Because the reason why you are going over there is to talk and have a meaningful conversation. 

 You don't have to prepare an elaborate dinner, fix up the whole house, or be perfect. The acronym KISS that means Keep It Simple, Stupid can apply here! 
Have a new church member over for coffee,
Invite your neighbor to go on a walk with you,
or have a family that you don't know very well over for dessert and games! 
You probably will have more fun than if you worried and slaved over a clean house, and an elaborate meal. 

2. The second possibility is that hospitality can be inexpensive!

Sometimes people don't have others over because they think they can't afford it. I'm here to tell you that you can! Pizza, coffee, and dessert are cheap options. When my husband was in college and we had no money to spare we had many game nights with others, and sometimes people would bring snacks and we'd all share. These times were cheap, but extremely fun and refreshing! We didn't have to spend $100 on food and decorations, but we made many friends this way. 

We also didn't have extra rooms in our home, but we did have a sofa couch in the living room, and anytime someone needed a place to stay they knew it was available.Was it expensive? No! But it helped those in need and was a comfortable, clean, warm place to stay. 

3. The third possibility is that hospitality can be meaningful!
Actually this point isn't just a possibility but should be the goal of hospitality! Throw out what the world calls hospitality (which is really just entertaining people) and seek to find times where you can have meaningful, friendship-building experiences with others.

We see this in the Bible with Jesus, Martha, and Mary in Luke 10:38-42,

  "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Martha was behaving like the harried woman, whose house we attended earlier. She wanted to do what was right but she missed the whole point! 
Mary saw what was important about being with Jesus. It was developing a relationship.maybe you DO love to go all out when having people over. Just don't let it be a substitute for the real purpose of hospitality, which is to be a blessing to others. 

Open your home and your heart to others, and like Hebrew 13:2 states, "some have entertained angels unawares." might end up applying to you! Isn't that a neat thought?

So, think of hospitality like the cups. Whether they are simple, inexpensive, or even more costly and elaborate, what matters is what it contains. Your hospitality should be full of love, meaningful conversations, and blessings no matter what "cup" it's housed in. That's what you want your hospitality to be all about. I challenge you to try it!

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