Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Art of Hospitality The art of hospitality... making others feel welcome and sharing Christ through acts of kindness.


Romans 12:9-13 Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; ...Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

In a day where most people are so busy running from one activity to another, we seem to have forgotten the command from God to practice hospitality. It is a rare site to drive past a home and see neighbors visiting each other on their front porch and enjoying a glass of lemonade, or 'sweet tea' if you live in the south.

Our homes are no longer a place of rest and relaxation, nor a place to minister to the needs of others. It seems to have become a place to grab a quick shower, maybe something to eat and a few hours of sleep before we are rushing out the door again to take part in what is commonly called the 'Rat Race'.

Our homes should be a place where those that live there can be recharged and rest in the fact that there is love and peace. A place where there is forgiveness and a willingness to serve each other, remembering how Jesus came to serve us, and be our forgives of our sins.

Our homes should also be a place of advancing God's kingdom. We do this by husbands and wives loving and serving each other. We do this by raising children that will grow up knowing Him and impacting those around them with the gospel, by walking out their faith in everything they say and do, not perfectly, but righteously.

Our homes should also be a place where others can feel welcome to just stop by and visit. Our doors should be open to those needing a place to stay or a meal to be served.

It does not matter the size of your home or your economic status to practice *real* hospitality. There is a major difference between hospitality and entertaining. This page will not be about entertaining, but the art of hospitality...Making others feel welcome and sharing Christ through acts of kindness.

Some Suggestions

We have a small 3 bedroom, one bathroom house. When we have overnight guest (married couples) we are happy to let them have our bedroom. We recently had 2 couples spend two nights with us. One couple stayed in our room, and the other in our daughters' room (twin beds). We had so much fun making little hospitality baskets for them and placing them on the night stand. We filled each basket with packages of crackers, peanuts, packs of gum, hard candy, a couple of bottles of water, a small note pad and pen, hand lotion, foot lotion, an Alabama post card for them to mail to someone, and a men's magazine and a woman's magazine. Because these couples were from the north, we chose to put Southern Living magazines in...ha-ha!!! Emma, age 11, also made them each a little card, that we placed in the basket, that said, Welcome, we're glad you came to see us." We had so much fun getting all of this ready for them, it was kind of like the excitement of Christmas. I know they enjoyed the baskets, but I think we enjoyed making them more!

Matthew 25:35 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

Plan Ahead
If you know you have guest coming for a meal, try to make as much of it the day before if you can. Keep it simple. Know your limits with time and money.

Do lots of decluttering and cleaning a few days ahead, so all you'll have to do is hit the high traffic areas before guest come.

Don't aim for perfection, that causes you, the hostess, to be miserable and your guest will know it and not feel welcome. I know most women struggle with being more of a Martha, than a Mary (I know I do!). Remember, you want to practice hospitality, not entertain. Most guest would rather have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich served with a pleasant, calm spirit and a smile, than someone that is exhausted and grumpy. Hospitality is about serving others and showing Christ's love with acts of kindness. Your goal is to make people feel welcome, not put on a show.

Keep conversation pleasant. Depending on your guest, try to avoid topics that will cause strife. There will be times that controversial topics will arise and you may need to make a 'strong statement' about your views, but be sure to do it with kindness and in a spirit of love.

Teach children not to ask personal questions that might make a guest feel uncomfortable. Children can be part of the conversation, but they also need to know that they do not need to comment every time they have the urge. It is better to listen than to speak. Children need to be taught discreet ways to interrupt an adult conversation. For example, a little tug on a sleeve and then wait patiently for Mom or Dad to respond.

Be careful to stick to topics that your guest can relate to. Don't try to impress them with big words that they would have no clue about. You want to nurture a relationship, not come across arrogant and boastful.

If you are having a hard time getting conversation going, ask people about themselves, where they were born, where they went to school, how they met their spouse, their job, etc... Try to relax, remember your goal is to make your guest feel comfortable.

Make It a Family Affair
Make sure the family knows and understands that you practice hospitality because it is a way to serve others. It is about the family working as a whole.
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The children, even small ones, need to know it is their ministry also. They 'need' to know they are important and have a duty. They can help get the house ready. Older children can help with food preparation and clean up. Be sure someone greets the guest at their car, especially if they have small children and ask if they can help carry something. Be sure to stand on the porch and wave as the guest leave. This really does make your guest feel like they are important to you.

Adults need to know where their children are at all times. A child left to himself brings shame to his mother. We want to be good host and good guest.

Unexpected, but Welcomed Guest

If we spend just a little time each day trying to keep our homes in some sort of order (again giving all children a duty to do) it is easier to welcome unexpected guest with less stress. Our homes do NOT need to be spotless to open that front door if someone drops by for a little visit. We are real families, that 'live' in real homes. If we remember that we (speaking to the women) are the keepers of our homes (Titus 2:5), and make that as one of our missions, we will be more likely to open that door with a smile.

If possible, keep a dozen or two of cookies or brownies in the freezer to take out and serve with a cup of coffee or tea. A simple glass of lemonade on a hot day is a refreshing treat!

Other Ways to Practice Hospitality
While remodeling our one and only bathroom we had some friends invite us for supper one day, but we had to take a raincheck because we knew we'd still busy with the bathroom that day. Deferent insisted on bringing lunch to us.
We were all so moved by this friend and her family's act of kindness that I can hardly put it into words. She brought 2 large baskets full of rolls, 3 kinds of chips, mint patties, plates, napkins, and then a platter of lettuce, lunch meat, cheeses, pickles and peppers. All arranged so beautifully! Along with a jug of ice tea and lemonade, flowers and balloons!!! She, her daughter, age 12, and her infant son brought the food with beautiful smiles, right at lunch time! What a blessing!

We were so humbled! So thankful! This act of hospitality caused our hearts to flow over as we remembered God's love for us. We did not experience a death, a birth, a fire, or a serious illness to merit such a kind act. Just as God showers His blessings on us everyday when we are so undeserving. Their act of hospitality showed God's love to us in ways that can not be explained. I hope this will encourage you, as it has us, to be creative and find ways to serve others, to bless others when they least expect it.

Our cup runnith over!

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