some thoughts on hospitality

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Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Romans 12:13

Hospitality. I’ve received so much of it in my short lifetime. I’ve stayed in more homes than I can remember, been given countless meals, had my laundry washed and ironed to perfection. Many times I was given a bed, while my hosts slept elsewhere. One instance sticks out to me.

It was summer in Germany– the longest day of the year. The ethereal quality of light was peculiar to that day and place on the globe; some friends and I were staying with a family on their pig farm. The farmer and his wife and their small children gathered with us around an old piano. It wasn’t enough that they had provided for us a beautiful meal, a warm bed, clean clothes– they wanted to give us more. On that sun-filled night, they shared their favorite hymn and we shared ours– they invited us into their home and let down their guard– we put away our iPods and our computers and experienced the blessing of gemeinschaft, fellowship. They sang Lobe den Herren, Bless the Lord, and we sang Amazing Grace and we were blessed. I’ll never forget them.

The hospitality I experienced in various places continually inspires me. I have several thoughts I’d like to share:

1. The more the merrier.  I’ve never regretted inviting too many people. In fact, I’ve been more likely to regret not inviting that one person. I’ve found that even if a person can’t come, being invited makes them feel wanted and loved. Who doesn’t need a little of that once in a while? And remember Luke 14:12-14:

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.”

Invite that odd person (you know the one) they may just be shy.

2. One-on-one is special too. There are those times that we just need to hang to with that one friend and it’s ok. Friendships need that nurturing– imagine if you never had alone time with your husband?

3. Graciousness. Accidents happen; people forget stuff; kids can be obnoxious. Letting stuff roll– and not talking about it later is the best practice.

4. Perfectionism is my enemy. Yeah, that one time that I decided to do a really fancy dinner and it was really bad . . . I experiment for my husband and do my best to recreate the successes. And the cake comes from the store.

5. But a little decadence is always nice. Tommy makes fun of me, but sometimes I like to use the cloth napkins when we have company, and paper straws. I mean why not? Let Pinterest inspire you!

6. Always offer something. After all, a party without cake is just a meeting. But really, even if it’s just a cup of coffee, it’s welcoming.

7. Don’t be afraid to dig deep.  So often we’re afraid to share our grief and joy, but as I learned from my German friends, these are the things that matter: that verse that encouraged us, the fact that we struggle to meet Christ each day… these are the things we need to share; we need to be real. Pray together, cry together, rejoice together. This is real fellowship. This is true gemeinschaft. 

Sarah

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