Feasting Table

Sep
27
- by Kamille Scellick - Leave a Comment
Feasting Table

I have  a secret love affair, which I don’t share with many people.  It’s musicals.  I adore them.  As in I have always wanted to sing in a musical.  This summer for our 10 year anniversary, my husband surprised me with tickets to watch Les Miserables, six rows from the front.  Twenty minutes in had me bawling.  Maybe it was pregnancy hormones, the love a mother had for her child, or the scandalous grace bestowed upon Jean Valjean, which he gave to others in return.  

What I witnessed nearby?  Women wiping their eyes.  Even men trying to be discreet.  Did they know of the grace my Jesus offers?  Is that why they cried?  Were they recipients of this gracious love?  Or were they left out in the cold, no one speaking up for them?  Why did this Jean Valjean character receive the loudest applause at the end?  Could it be everyone related to being an outcast at one point in their life, and like the son in the parable who spent his father’s wealth only to dine with pigs was welcomed in by the Father running to them?  

Hospitality is this picture.  Everyone is an outcast.  You have been one, I have been one.  God sees his creation and knows those who least deserve it will see salvation.  A salvation wrapped around Jesus, which points to the glory of God is unadulterated beauty.  This is a feast everyone is welcomed into.  Jesus came not to “call the righteous but sinners toward repentance.”  It is what makes genuine hospitality so appealing:

"On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare

    a feast of rich food for all peoples,

a banquet of aged wine—

    the best of meats and the finest of wines."

His feasting table is not a caste system, not a social status to climb or a bank account to fill.  He pulls out the fatted calf, he turns the water to wine, he goes down to Skid Row to welcome the prostitute and says, “Child, you are welcome to my feast as you are.”  He heads to the Fat Cat Capitalists with their moneybags, “Child, your money is not needed, just you are welcome to the feast.”  He knocks on the mother’s door laden with guilt by the milk crusted table, food smeared walls and opening the door just after she yelled at her kids, he says, “My child, you are welcome to my feast.  No need to get out of those pajamas.”  

"On this mountain he will destroy

    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;

    he will swallow up death forever.

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears

    from all faces;

he will remove his people’s disgrace

    from all the earth.

The Lord has spoken."

This is the God I serve, and he serves me with that scandalous grace.  He prepares a table wafting with aromas of star anise, beef, tomatoes, red wine stewing in a dutch oven.  He looks the tired cashier in the eye and says, “How is your day?”  He welcomes the child into his lap and reads that same book for the 100th time.  He visits the elderly who has no one to listen to them.  He gives hope to the prisoner who has none in sight.  His hospitality is a table that all are welcome at.  He welcomes you and you in return welcome others.  

Transient

It can be your actual table, or your proverbial table.  It’s wherever you find yourself.  It’s the teacher & administration at your child’s school.  It’s your husband and children.  It’s your in-laws and family.  It’s the clerk, the cashier, the doorkeeper, the cab driver, the homeless person asking for money.  

The pervading power of loving kindness is hospitality. 

You do not need to be a skilled home keeper or culinary extraordinaire.  What you do need is a hospitable heart of loving kindness.  When you walk into my home, I can serve up the best meal your tastebuds experienced, but if I neglect the platter of loving kindness, all you will taste is bitterness.  

By offering hospitality, you are pointing towards the everlasting feast Jesus the host, is preparing for all humanity.  

In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;

 we trusted in him, and he saved us.

This is the Lord, we trusted in him;

    let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”  

                             --Isaiah 25:6-9

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This post is part of our  Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!   

Transient

Our Story of Learning Hospitality

Sep
24
- by Katy Rose - Leave a Comment
Our Story of Learning Hospitality

For about four years we lived in less than 500 square feet (which was huge compared to the 250 square feet the year before that). It was cozy and cramped but we made it work. People living in New York City are used to tight quarters so we just went ahead and hosted bible studies, community groups, showers and dinners right there in our little home. 

To make things even more enjoyable, our apartment had no elevator and we lived several flights up. Strollers, groceries, suitcases, pregnant bellies... I can't tell you how many times I stood panting on the landings between floors. When guests came over we'd find them at the door standing breathless from their ascent. 

The bathroom was so small we couldn't bend over the sink while brushing our teeth, and had to adapt a sideways tilt position. The toilet and bathtub were both miniature, kind of like they belonged in a doll house.

Somehow, nestled into this tiny apartment, a guest bedroom had been created by adding a wall at the end of the living room. It fit a twin bed and a dresser, and had a little window overlooking trash heaps below in the "courtyard."

That apartment and that room taught me invaluable lessons.

Spare bedrooms are a rarity in the City.  Over the course of our years in that apartment, the room was almost always in use. 

Friends, strangers, invited, or not. 

Some stayed the weekend, some six months. 

Some closed the toilet lid, others preferred it open. 

Some cooked us dinner, others asked when it would be ready.

Some liked to sit and chat in the living room, some required absolute privacy. 

Some left beautiful notes of thanks, others left bed bugs.

When you open up your home you will inevitably experience discomfort.  You might get frustrated, and you might consider asking someone to leave (or you may actually do it, as became necessary with one of our dear tenants.)

But you will also be blessed by the joys of hospitality in ways that you would have never known if you hadn't opened your doors.

Transient

Lessons Learned

You don't need a big house, even for overnight guests, just a few square feet and a willing heart. 
If you are hosting for longer periods of time it's okay to lay out a few ground rules. This will make everyone involved a lot happier. We had a list posted on our fridge with a handful of things that helped our house run more smoothly. 
You don't need a kitchen table for dinner guests. We found little trays on laps in the living room worked just great. 
Prepare to have your routine interrupted. 
Prepare to share your food and belongings. 
Prepare to wipe mud off the carpet. 
Prepare to be blessed by the way people share their lives and hearts. 
Prepare to fall in love with an open home, and embrace the periods of respite in between.

People Over Preference

One phrase I said to myself over and over again during that period, and still do, is People Over Preference. The people and relationships God places in my life are exponentially more important that my petty preferences regarding my home, order, and cleanliness. I will choose the person over the preference, and pray for a patient heart. 

I recognize that not everyone is in a season of life where it's possible to have long-term guests in your home. But I think most of us can be praying for the Lord to bring opportunities that allow us to practice sacrificial hospitality, the kind that can be uncomfortable at times, but sanctifying. 

The Ultimate Act

The hospitality that Paul encouraged in scripture typically meant inviting strangers into your home to save them from expensive and dangerous lodging alternatives. The Christians of the day would definitely have experienced some discomfort.

As a believer in Christ,  I've experienced the ultimate act of hospitality from my Savior: adoption into His family as a daughter, and permanent residency in his home. I pray this deep gospel confidence influences the way I display hospitality towards others.

Part of me misses those cramped, crazy days, though I'm extremely thankful for a few more square feet now.  I look forward to new seasons of hospitality as the Lord expands my understanding of living a life with open doors. 

Transient

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This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!   

Transient

Creating a Hospitality Pantry

Sep
20
- by Brenda Nuland - Leave a Comment
Creating a Hospitality Pantry

I love even the word hospitality.   It brings about memories of neighborhood boys reaching in the ever-filled cookie jar, meals shared with friends, college students enjoying hamburger dip and corn chips as they discuss deep theology and the basketball team, tea parties, a wedding open house, homeschool graduation, and sipping coffee with a good friend.

These days I deal with the fatigue which comes from over a decade of living with a chronic illness.  While I no longer can whip up a last minute gourmet meal, I can be prepared in such a way that opening my home to family and friends is still possible.  I have prepared ahead by stocking my Hospitality Pantry.

What is a Hospitality Pantry?

It was in a book by Emilie Barnes that I first read about the concept of a Hospitality PantryIt differs from keeping items in our normal pantry as these are specifically set aside for those times we have guests in our home

Whether it is a full meal for a visiting family or tea time with a friend, planning ahead for guests makes the difference between me enjoying hospitality or feeling tense when someone stops by because I have nothing to offer.

These days I try to keep at least a couple main dishes and perhaps a side dish or two in the freezer.  I know women who plan ahead by doubling their main dishes when preparing their family's dinner and freezing half for later.  Others prepare a few dishes just for the freezer on a scheduled day.

By having meals in the freezer that can be popped in the oven and heated at the last moment, it does give freedom to invite family and friends to share a meal... even after working full time or spending the day with adorable but active children.

I must admit, there have been many times in my life when my freezer meals were made by Stouffer's but sometimes good enough is... good enough.  As with anything, if we wait until we have the perfectly prepared pantry or a filled freezer then we will come to the end of our life without offering hospitality to anyone.

Of course, we can open our home to others without offering a full meal.  Living with intense fatigue, I most often serve beverages and "something baked" when I invite people over.

I was already thinking of this post when I read the story of unexpected company dropping by on the Mountain Musings blog.  They were able to enjoy a time of fellowship together with a pie defrosted from the freezer.  Now, I don’t know about you but give me coffee and pie and I’m a happy guest!  

At one time I had planned on becoming a pastry chef so baked goods are my specialty.   Many baked items freeze beautifully.  My daughter and I recently catered my son's wedding reception and we started baking for the freezer a month ahead of the wedding! 

If wrapped to prevent freezer burn, unfrosted layer cakes , cupcakes, and cookies all freeze well and only need to be defrosted when company stops by.  One can either make a quick homemade frosting or keep containers of frosting on hand (when whipped with the tiniest amount of milk or cream, they are much more like homemade). 

I have kept my Hospitality Pantry in various areas over the years. As with any pantry, you have to make certain it is not in an area that gets too hot or damp, and the items are protected from harm (ants, mice, etc.).  I have some items in an antique cabinet in my kitchen but I've also used a large Rubbermaid container on a shelf in the garage. 

Stocking the Hospitality Pantry

Since circumstances can prevent stocking the freezer with home baked goodies, I like to keep a couple boxes of Pepperidge Farm or various gourmet brands of cookies in the Hospitality Pantry.   Nothing expensive but a brand I know is dependable for guests.

If you have small children stopping by your home, child friendly cookies with no artificial colorings would be helpful to have on hand. I used to keep shortbread, Nilla wafers, and those little crackers one uses in their clam chowder.  My sister kept animal cookies on hand when Christopher was little and he adored her for it.

In my regular pantry, I have a few boxes of mixes (brownie mix, cake mix, scone mix, etc.) that I use from time to time. I prefer making things from scratch but there are days if I don't use a mix, it will not happen... and my son likes the boxed brownie mix better than mine.  Sigh...

I do want to do a little something more than put everyone on a sugar high.  I purchase blocks of cheese when they are on sale and keep good quality crackers in the Hospitality Pantry.  Since they are my "go to" meal when I don't feel well (along with a piece of fresh fruit), I normally have them available for guests, too.

I also stock up on cream cheese when it goes on sale, there is an abundance of both sweet and savory recipes which have cream cheese as their base. 

Should you be opening your home to teenagers and college students, they are the easiest to feed!  I used to keep the ingredients for making our favorite hamburger dip on hand as well as microwave popcorn, chips, salsa in a jar, and frozen appetizers they could bake themselves... and most importantly, clean up themselves! 

For last minute grownup meals, I keep rice and pasta for a quick meal by adding a favorite condiment.  I currently have a few favorite items such as Thai Peanut Sauce, a jar of Alfredo Sauce, and the ever present Marinara Sauce in the pantry. 

All are good quality that can be used to make a main dish just as they are or "doctored" with favorite extras such as fresh Parmesan cheese for the Italian dishes.  When using such items, remember to never serve to guests what you have not already tried with the family!

For kid friendly meals, there is nothing like having a few boxes of Amy's Mac and Cheese in the pantry.  Kids also love little tea sandwiches and most will think canned fruit is exceptional if served along with the sandwiches on a pretty dish.

A few friends of the family are vegetarian so I always keep items on hand to make meals that contain no meat.  For instance, a lentil soup can be put together quickly and only takes about an hour to simmer.

Some other suggestions are:  coffee - regular and decaf, flavored syrups for coffee, plain and flavored cream for coffee, various types of tea, iced tea mix, lemonade mix, hot chocolate mix or cocoa, Splenda for those needing artificial sweeteners, and if one must... soft drinks even though I discourage them in my family these days.  :)

I have collected pretty dishes and serving pieces through the years, most quite inexpensively purchased at thrift stores and garage sales.  I love to set a pretty table.

However,  I also keep paper plates and disposable cups on hand at all times in my Hospitality Pantry.  There are stores in my town that sell beautiful paper plates and napkins at "clearance" prices.

Since we eat with our eyes... setting a simple but pretty table will make the most humble of foods appear as a feast. 

A Pantry Postscript

I love cookbooks, so much that I read them as one does a classic novel... and you know what I discovered long ago?  A good cookbook or cooking magazine can be one of the best investments you can make.

You will do a lot of cooking in your role as mother and perusing cookbooks and cooking magazines will provide the information needed in this role as homemaker.  I give you permission, within your budget obviously, to build a homemaking library.  :)

Let's say you pay $20.00 for a cookbook filled with recipes you know you would enjoy making.  Then let's say you only find two recipes you will use for your family.  Even then... that means you have two recipes you will use over and over, most likely for years.   Better yet if the cookbook gives advice on how to cook and bake!

Magazines are getting expensive but I find locating very good recipes even easier in them.  Most likely because food magazines tend to be somewhat specialized in the audience they want to reach. 

Magazines like Taste of Home and Paula Deen often provide simple recipes while Bon Appetit is there for the gourmet.  Some food magazines are associated with a season or holiday and while they tend to be more expensive than the others, they are good to keep on the shelves to use year after year. 

Remember... you will only become skilled at what you do often.   Expand your skills by reading, watching cooking shows, and even taking cooking classes.  I don't believe anyone is a bad cook... only an uninformed cook.

My Hospitality Hero

I once wrote a blog post  where I shared my hospitality hero.  He is Mole... as in The Wind in the Willows, instead of Martha... as in Stewart.  Mole offered what was in his cabinet at the moment.  With just a little preparation, so can you.

What are some of your tips for preparing to offer hospitality to others? What items do you like to have on hand to serve those who enter your home?

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This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!

Your Home is A Gathering Place

Sep
11
- by Renee Parris - Leave a Comment
Your Home is A Gathering Place

In our busy culture, we have a tendency to shy away from using our homes to entertain and for the ministry of hospitality and discipleship. Many people prefer to enjoy coffee at Starbucks, meet their friends at a restaurant, and hold Bible studies at the church fellowship hall. 

Why then is it important to have gatherings in our home?

Family is the first institution that God ever created and the home is very important to Him.  I do realize the word “home” conjures up many different feelings for people.  Unfortunately, not everyone has had a good experience in their home.  For some, pain and abuse have been embodied there.  But in the perfect plan of God, before sin entered the world, homes were supposed to be havens for fellowship with each other and with God.

The words home, house, and houses are mentioned 2,213 times in the Bible.  That is not counting how often the word abode is used in reference to where someone lived.   We should compare that to the 399 references to church(s), synagogue(s), and temple(s).  The difference in those numbers tells me that our homes must be a place of great importance to God. 

In searching the Scriptures, there are specific things I found that should exist in our homes: acceptance, comfort, safety to speak openly, sweet ointments and aromas, nourishing food, sounds of laughter, conversations, praying, and yes, sometimes rebuke and discipline.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says specifically about our homes.  In the Old Testament, here is just one example of a home used as a place of refreshment. 

 “And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.”  1 Kings 13:7 

Many times in the life and ministry of Jesus, we see that He took people into a house to minister to them.  He spoke in the temples and synagogues, yes.  And He preached to crowds on the mountains, and by the sea.  Yet, often after speaking to the masses, He and His disciples would leave and go directly into a home. 

“And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.” Mark 1:29

Often we find Jesus escaping the crowds and entering a house, where He would nurture, answer questions, teach and share His heart with His closest followers.  He did His intimate discipleship and training inside of a house, away from the crowds.  

“And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.”  Mark 7:17 

“And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?”  Mark 9:28

Even when correction was needed, He waited until they were alone inside a home.  Publicly He rebuked crowds but privately He corrected individuals. 

 “And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” Mark 9:33

When Jesus wanted to have the Passover meal with His disciples, He chose a house where the meal would be hosted.  I wonder what it was that appealed to Jesus and why He chose that particular house.  

“And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” Matthew 26:18

We know that Jesus was often found in the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha when He needed to be refreshed.  He was also in homes when feet washings occurred and the alabaster box of ointment was broken and spilled on Him.  People were prayed for, important matters discussed, and special moments were shared between the Saviour and those He loved all in the haven of homes.  

“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.” Mark 14:3

Even after Jesus ascended to Heaven, we find in the book of Acts there was preaching and teaching going on inside the homes.  “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” Acts 5:42

In other passages in Acts we read accounts of gatherings and discussions in the homes of Lydia, Cornelius, Mary (mother of John Mark) Justus, and others.  Following Christ’s example, the apostle Paul entertained all who came into the house where he lived.  “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Acts 28:30-31

So, in today’s society, how does one cultivate their home into a place where Christ would feel welcome and disciples would be nurtured?

It doesn’t take much money, that’s for sure.  But it does take time and planning and a willingness to be vulnerable with other people.  If this is new territory for you, perhaps you can begin by just inviting one or two close friends for coffee and having a practice run.

To work hospitality into your schedule and budget, here are a few simple tips:  

You can begin by making a list of people to whom you feel God would have you bless with a cup of tea or dinner or perhaps even a game night.  Then as time on your calendar allows, make your way down that list.

You can browse the clearance aisle at party supply stores for plates, napkins, silverware, etc. that are inexpensive or out of season.  You can pair a patterned plate with plain napkins, or vice versa.  Also, if you only have a handful of utensils left of a particular color, save them.  Because at the next gathering, if your plates or napkins have pink and purple for example, you can use both pink and purple forks.  Mixing and matching is both pretty and keeps expenses down. 

You can look for seasonal refrigerated cookie dough that is marked down simply because of the package.  Keep them handy to throw in the oven for those occasions when there isn’t time to make anything more elaborate. 

Candles are always a nice touch for entertaining.  Discount stores sell votive cups for about a dollar each.  Even a tea light can be put in a votive cup and add a quick touch of elegance.  Then, you can give them to your guests as a reminder of your time together.

Music is an instant atmosphere enhancer.  Use discretion when choosing the music you play as people have strong opinions about music.  You can’t really go wrong using classical or instrumental compositions of hymns.

If all you do is offer coffee, tea, or milk, along with cookies, people will feel valued and special.  Add in prayer time, book discussion, or some gentle but deep questions.  You will witness the Holy Spirit transform your home into a sacred place where ministering happens.   You will be able to watch people relax and open up in ways that they probably would not do in a fellowship hall or restaurant.

Using your home as a way to make people feel appreciated, loved, valued, discipled, and nurtured is a wonderful ministry.  You will receive far more than you give away.  If you study the ministry of Jesus and how much of it took place in homes, you will see the importance of opening up your home as extensions of His love and grace.

May God bless and refresh many souls through the gatherings where you abide.

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Transient

This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all theposts in this series so far!

Photo: Source

Entertaining Angels

Sep
6
- by Stacy Buck - Leave a Comment
Entertaining Angels

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels with out knowing it.

Hebrews 13:1-2

Louisiana is accustomed to holding tight and gripping hard. Winds blow in a familiar breath-holding way. August 29th, exactly 7 years ago, a category 5 foe named Katrina made her way. She upheaved the ocean onto forbidden banks. Infrastructures of protection could not contain the mountains of wet forcefully dumped in the southern region of our country. Floods came. Tears flowed. Life lost. Hope on hold.

When Katrina decided her visit was done, she left behind her haunting fingerprints of destruction. The misplaced ran to the Superdome in the heart of their city. Hundreds of thousands of people were bussed to Houston and San Antonio. Churches filled and school cafeterias turned into make shift bedrooms, one cot at a time. As the busses rolled down Interstate 10,  jammed packed with passengers that looked like they were being shipped from war torn countries, San Antonio prepared. My husband is a first responder. The fire department committed hundreds of its best to greet the stranded and organize a small city of the displaced within a gigantic city of generosity.

Sometimes when the wind blows it is more than a rustling of trees. It’s a movement of God.

My phone rings. A stranger on the other line. Frantic and far away, a voice asks, “Is this Stacy Buck?” I say yes. She says, “My name is Rachel. I met your husband at the evacuation center. I can’t find my family. My husband and mother-in-law are lost. I was separated from them in Houston. I am tired from searching. It has been two days without them. Five days since leaving Louisiana, no shower, no privacy. Just noise.” The phone gets quiet yet the buzz behind her echoes. She tells me she’s taking a cab to a hotel. Desperate, weary and alone a total stranger continues, “Mrs. Buck, your husband said you would help me. I just need a few hours of sleep, will you come get me in the morning and help me look for my family?” 

The lost gets found.

 A day passes, my church adopted a shelter designated as “Senior Shelter”. I drop my child at mother’s day out and my gut tells me to go. I hold my breath thinking of Rachel and her distress. How great the needs must be. I enter the shelter seeing many familiar faces. My church. Not the four walls, but the hands, feet, and heart of my church. This shelter is cot-to-cot full of the elderly. My heart beats. I don’t really know what to do. A question runs through my mind, “What is your greatest need?” I began to ask.

 To Edna and Arlene (a 50 year old daughter and an 80 year old mother), I ask, “What is your greatest need?”  They were without some hygiene products. We drove and got the items needed. We stopped at Sally’s Beauty Supply so they could get their minds off of their loss. A thought moved through my heart, “They care about their hair but God cares about where they lay their head.” With my husband’s permission and the permission of the shelter, we brought this mother and daughter home. A quiet place, a shower of their own, a real meal around a real table. A soft place to lay their heads. Less than 24 hours later we were taking them to the airport for waiting family members in Las Vegas. The plane tickets purchased by a passerby who asked me, “What is their greatest need?”

This same day, I also met Katherine, 75. She sat outside with her hands over her ears. I ask her the question I was becoming more comfortable with, “What is your greatest need?”  Tears fall. “Quiet. I need quiet.” With permission, I took Katherine to my favorite place of refuge, my mom’s house. We stopped and purchased clean undergarments and clothes. She asked if I could assist her with a shower. She whispered, “I can’t afford to fall.” I held my breath. My mind raced. I am a total stranger, unskilled in this area, untrained in assisting those needing this kind of assistance. Her eyes pleaded yet her head hung as she gripped on to dignity. God was near. Katherine clean and quiet, slept. Hours passed. Peace came.

Transient

There was one section of the shelter where 12 residents from the assisted living, Mederie Manor, huddled together. They were anxious, clinging together the way a family clings to their beloved. I remembered I had met two representatives from a local nursing home earlier that morning. I found them and told them about this group of 12. That afternoon, the 12 loaded a bus and made it to a quieter, more private temporary placement. I can still see them waving out their windows.

There are angels among us, don’t miss the opportunity to entertain them. There doesn’t have to be a hurricane for us to ask, “What is your greatest need?” and do our best to meet it.

Photo Credit

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Transient

This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!

Hospitality I Want

Aug
30
- by Katy Rose - Leave a Comment
Hospitality I Want

Uncomfortable Hospitality

I have a friend named Serenity who lives out hospitality in an incredibly selfless way. Along with her husband and four kids, this suburban family in the northwest started a food pantry out of their garage. They saw needs in their community and simply decided to do something.

Serenity hosts meals inside the house too. At first, almost all the guests were complete strangers, spoke a different language, and were folks who most of us may feel a bit uncomfortable entertaining within our personal space or having around our children. 

But now they have become friends and Serenity tells me, "It is heartbreaking at times as Jesus shows lies, preconceived ideas, ignorance, and just plain fear in me. Being intimately involved in the lives of our neighbors has been one of the biggest blessings to my life with Jesus. They give me kisses, hugs, and endearing words as they leave our house that sometimes make me fall to pieces.  I really don’t know how I get to be loved like this."

Serenity is honest about the struggles and the refinement in this journey of hospitality for their family. It is not always easy or pretty, but they are taking serious the Bible's call to care for people, whether it makes them feel comfortable or not. 

She says, "No matter how your house looks, the way you treat others overrides even the most immaculate, beautiful house.  Hospitality is not about impression, it is about loving others."

Transient

Don't Fool Yourself

The most moving gestures of hospitality I have experienced have not necessarily been within large, pristine homes. They've not had manicured lawns and a table filled with endless delicacies. 

So why do I, time and time again, fool myself into thinking I need those things to show hospitality towards others? Why do I allow insecurities of my housekeeping skills, my decorating budget, or my lack of nice shrubbery rob me of the joy?

The most gracious gestures of hospitality have been from friends, family, and strangers opening up their homes and lives to us, especially in times of need. Their genuine love  has trumped pretenses.

Biblical hospitality reflects a genuine heart, a focus on others rather than one's own appearance, and in those days there was often an element of danger, and definitely discomfort.

It meant providing lodging for strangers when the alternative was too expensive or too dangerous. It took vulnerable courage for the Christians in Rome to live out what Paul asked them to do when he said, "I appeal to you, by the mercies of God... do not be conformed to this world... Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." (Romans 12)

Transient

Do you, like me, aspire towards greater measures of hospitality in your home? 

Here are a few more thoughts:

Pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. Be open to adjustments in your perception of  hospitality.

Serenity talks about the ways their family has had to adjust to, and revise their expectations. They are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and the needs of their own children. For example, recently they began closing off their children's rooms while visitors were over because of the stress the mess was putting on their kids with people constantly in their home.

Tidiness is a good thing, but not at the expense of relationship.

My husband and I decided years ago that if arguments started to boil up between the two of us in the mad dash to prepare  for guests we would halt the clean-up and let our guests see the house as-is, an obvious humbling consequence.  Our family relationships are more important than the appearance of a well-kept house. And what could be more nauseating to my family than to hear me snap at them, then instantly turn on a happy face when guests walk through the door. 

This has resulted in an attempt to stay on top of chores consistently throughout the week so that last-minute visitors are always welcome. Try leaving that pile of laundry out instead of stuffing it in a closet; it might just make your guest feel even more at home.

Imitate the example of the ultimate act of hospitality 

If you are a believer in Christ, you have experienced the ultimate act of hospitality from your Savior: adoption into His family as a son or daughter, and permanent residency in his home. Allow this deep gospel confidence to influence the way you display hospitality towards others.

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Transient

This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!