Practice Hospitality

I am far enough along in this world to acknowledge and appreciate that the Lord has given me certain gifts. Some of you -- okay, probably only Dad -- think I have a gift of words and writing. Other people may say that my intelligence is a gift. I will readily acknowledge that I do have above average intelligence, but lately I feel as if I only use my gift to be impatient and critical of those not quite so intellectually gifted.

I'm also far enough along in this world to acknowledge that there are certain gifts that I don't posses in any degree. Seriously, imagination is one. That's why (*gasp*) I don't get too much into Harry Potter OR Narnia. It's not in my world, I have no frame of reference with which to make it line up, and I can't picture it. Maybe that's why 'style' seems to be elusive, as well (is stylishness a spiritual gift? I think it could be!) If I haven't already seen it done, I can't/ won't come up with it. For my wardrobe OR my home.

While I am tempted to jaunt off down the long and winding road of all the ways I am NOT gifted, the point of this post is hospitality. I do not consider that to be one of my gifts.

Well, let me rephrase that: Is hospitality ONLY the act of welcoming people into your home? Because that is my question, I guess. It's hard for me to have people over for (at least) 18 different reasons. I do it on rare occasion and do enjoy it but you know people who have that GIFT, don't you? It is not mine.

So I ponder on these scriptures:

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Do I have to have people in my home to share? Is that the only way?

What about this:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.1 Peter 4:8-10

If we are to "offer hospitality (AND without grumbling)" and also "use whatever gift I have received to serve others" -- is that a contradiction? What if hospitality isn't my gift?

And, again, I'm asking, by definition is hospitality having people come into your home? Don't get me wrong, I think there is immense value in welcoming fellow Christians into your home for times of fellowship and laughter. But I've mentioned here before that I'm classified as an introvert, which means that being around other people is fatiguing to me. My home is energizing to me. It is my refuge and time to recharge. In my pajamas.

So something that was mentioned in Sunday school a few weeks ago made me think maybe I'm not a complete loser/ failure in this regard. The teacher mentioned hospitality as a trait you carry with you. It wasn't his point at all, and he quickly skipped to another subject, but it made me think about this subject. I can't stand for anyone to feel left out in any manner. I can't stand for anyone to walk into a church building and have no one talk to them. I can't stand for anyone to feel as if everyone around them has been friends forever and they are missing all of the jokes. It is my burden (and by this I simply mean that it is something the Lord has put on my heart) to reach out to the invisibles -- especially in my classroom. Those kids who don't cause problems and do okay but aren't stellar in school. They are in danger of being invisible to a harried teacher of 22. Am I being hospitable when I seek out those folks? The left-out and invisible? Or am I simply trying to justify being a poor and infrequent hostess?

Is hospitality your thing? Where are you hospitable?

(P.S. -- if you were a recent dinner guest in my home, this is NOT a not-so-veiled attempt to garner accolades for my adequate hostessing skills. It's just what I've been thinking.)


Troy M. Stirman said...

Pajamas- who are you kidding?



Roxanne said...

Troy. . .you made me laugh.

Sarah. . .I think part of the whole hospitality thing was cultural. . .don't you? They were living in a time when travel meant you either stayed in an Inn or with someone you knew. I think early Christians were being encouraged to be the "someone you knew" even if they'd only just met you. Guests also normally stayed a long, long time and had to be treated special ways that were guided by social custom and taboo.

That being said, I don't have people in my home that often either. Mine is an issue of time and location--we live 15 miles from church which translates into a 30 minute drive. There are others with whom we are friends who live even further away. Working full time takes a lot of wind out of my sails as well. Weekends are the only time to "entertain" and that's when I'm in full out collapse.

I think in this day, hospitality IS something we carry around within us--just like the teacher said. we are more likely these days to take the preacher out to Sunday lunch rather than have him over for roast, but that does not make us inhospitable. It's just as cultural as foot washing was "back in the day." It's a different time and a different place.

Tammy M. said...

Good thoughts. Troy is funny. We had a discussion in bible class last week about prayer. What forms that takes in our lives, the bible says pray without ceasing, I can do that. Then it talks about how Jesus walks away from distractions, early in the morning to pray for hours. Harder to do. I at first want to disregard the early in the morning, long prayer time, as something that doesn't fit into my life. But God convicted me a couple of days ago, that it is all about sacrifice isn't it. It is not about what is easy and comes naturally, it is about honoring Him and giving Him my first fruits of my day, not just my paycheck. I am being convicted that it is the hard stuff that I do that really does the refining, not the stuff that comes easily and naturally. Off the subject of hospitality, but I think that could be included in sacrificial service, because it is very hard to be hospitable in home these days.

Paula said...

This is something I wrestle with. I, like you, am an introvert, but with an over the top extroverted husband who LOVES to entertain in our home. Therefore, I have people in my home, but it is almost always my husband's idea. (He does much of the work of having poeple over, so I can't complain) I usually love doing it and have a good time, but I would probably rarely do it if he did not initiate. (Yet one more way we are definitely opposites!:)

But I tend to believe the way you do about it not just being a matter of being in someone's home to feel their hospitality. I have been in people's homes where I feel like I am in their way, so I don't think that counts as hospitality. I have also been in public places, but have been welcomed by someone in "the group" in which I may be an outsider. I think hospitality can take place in a person's home or not, but it definitely has to be in a person's heart.

(Thanks for your comment on my blog, but I can't find your "decorating quiz")

dad said...

In my opinion, the points of your last paragraph show you are exactly on track - you don't need a house to be hospitable. The examples you give show a heart for making others comfortable - no matter where you find them. THAT is hospitality.

christycate said...

Well said, Dad... I, for one, have never been in your home and it has never even occurred to me before that I haven't. Why? Because I find you to have been one of the most hospitable spirits in my Abilene church family. You have reached out in friendship and in trust and I love you for it. Enough said.

(P.S. I realize you have never been in my home either. Oops! Sorry, Sarah. I, as the extrovert in our friendship, have absolutely no problem having people randomly pop-in. Feel free to do so at any time!)

Terral said...

I think reaching out and trying to make people feel a connection or be involved is the whole point. Your way is great because there are always people at church or elsewhere that need to feel like someone sees them. I just love to cook and have people over. My husband and kids enjoy the fellowship. We all have our gift of reaching out to people. That is why we are the body of Christ. I don't think one is more important than the other.

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