Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Point of Hospitality

The women in my church have been getting together roughly once a month for Sunday night socials. Different ladies open up their homes for a meal followed by a time of fellowship. These have been fun times to be together and a great way to get to know one another outside of Sunday morning. My turn as hostess will be in October, and I'm already starting to formulate plans in my head. While I am a planner by nature, there is another reason for thinking ahead so early.

Hospitality intimidates me.

I have the usual reasons. I'm an introvert. My house is small. I don't have a dining room table. I'm too busy with work. I'm more of a throw stuff in a crock pot with a can of cream of mushroom soup than a gourmet chef. And so forth and so on. In addition to these lame excuses, there's also a lingering fear in the back of my mind of "not doing it right", whatever that nebulous standard may be. So it's no wonder that I can get caught up in the "how to" of hospitality and forget "who" it's for. Therefore, it's worth refocusing on the big picture and asking, "What is the point of hospitality for believers?"

When we are too functional, we forget the point of hospitality in the home: fellowship, not entertainment. Don't let pride stop you from opening your home. Ignore the cat hair on the couch (or in the mac and cheese). It likely won't kill anyone as decisively as loneliness will.1
Hospitality is not a house inspection, it’s friendship.2

As I was writing this post, this real life example of true hospitality came to mind:

One of the sad realities of being a single parent is you spend some of your holidays alone. I was fully prepared to be by myself that first Christmas several years ago. But as I was talking with the wife of a family who had just started attending the church, she asked what I was doing on Christmas Day. When she heard I was on my own, she insisted that I join them for dinner because "no one should be alone on Christmas." This family among others made sure I was never alone on subsequent holidays. Looking back, I was probably lonelier than I realized or would admit at the time. It wasn't about the food, although it was delicious, or how stylish the table was set. It was about opening their hearts and homes to a sister-in-Christ who needed friends that day. As the recipient, I was greatly blessed, but I think my hosts were equally blessed through this simple act of reaching out. And as the saying goes, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

So this is what I need to remember whenever I feel intimidated by hospitality. It isn't about trying to impress but serving those who are gathered around the table no matter what's on the menu. It is extending friendship through an open heart and home no matter the venue. And through hospitality, community is strengthened, and God is glorified.

1. Openness Unhindered, Chapter 7 - Community, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Crown & Covenant Publications, July 2015, pp. 160. (emphasis mine)


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  2. Great reminder! I always love the idea of hosting, until it's my turn! Then, all the fears of not doing things the right way, not having a nice space, not keeping people comfortable, creep in.

    1. Thanks, Mae.

      A friend said that sometimes having to be hospitable on the fly is good because then there isn't time for the worries to creep in. :)