As the holiday season is upon us, I think of memories of years past of Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties. Those memories are usually at family members’ homes and friends inviting my family to join them to celebrate the season. In those homes was an atmosphere of belonging and comfort. There were certain places that became long term memories as those people hosted us, creating a place that made me feel so welcome that I would look forward to the next time we could attend an event with them.
For a long time, I associated the practice of hospitality to holiday celebrations and family occasions, but I do remember my mother was always a stickler for making sure our house was in perfect condition to host people for any reason.
Even if it was just friends coming over for the day, we had to clean everything. I don’t think she did that to drive me crazy but to be sure that whoever was stepping into our house would feel at home. With that, my mother wanted to make sure I was a good host and meeting the needs of a friend, even before they asked. That took some time.
hos·pi·ta·ble: adjective – friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests.
As I have gotten older and spent time around incredibly generous people, generous with both money and time, I have grown appreciate those who are hospitable with their lives.
I am not going to list those people, as it’s not in their nature to want that recognition, but they each have similar attributes.
These people are available, welcoming, a blessing to others, loving, good listeners, and don’t make you feel inferior.
I know God has created and positioned certain people to be hospitable, but I think we can all learn from those who bless others so well. It’s not about having so much money or a place to host events but a lifestyle – one that Jesus himself lived and preached. He told us to love God and to love others.
“He said also to the man who had invited him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.’” Luke 14:12-14
One friend of mine recently went to a Pittsburgh Pirate game and didn’t invite me! That same evening he sent me a text of a selfie he took with some guy that I didn’t recognize. He told me that he felt God wanted him to bless someone he didn’t know. The man he took was a homeless man from Pittsburgh that my friend let the Spirit direct him to. He blessed that guy in a number of ways that night and had some good conversation. It impacted me greatly to hear about this experience.
I also know this wasn’t the first time he has done something like this. It’s a lifestyle.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
Where can I start showing love and hospitality in my world? I can start with those around me and pray that God opens doors to love others outside of my world well. I think of how my mom wanted me to serve my friends well and address their needs so they felt comfortable.
What if being hospitable to someone I encounter makes them comfortable enough to hear about the God of the universe and His son Jesus?