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Hospitality with a purpose

In my childhood years I grew up in a home that was designed with entertaining in mind…both inside and out. The pool area had a fully outfitted cabana, providing extra bathing suits and towels for the occasional guest who showed up without swimwear. There was a shuffleboard and a patio with plenty of lounge chairs, and a spacious, paved driveway for a crowd to easily park. The finished basement had a dance floor, a huge brick fireplace and a bar to seat a dozen people, fully stocked. Dad was not a Christian at that time (or any other religion), but he was truly graced with the gift of hospitality. Passing away at age 88, there were hundreds of people at his funeral, and many came, I believe, because they remembered my dad as a generous man who loved to share his home with others, and they had great memories from those times at our house.

When my husband and I moved into our little “fixer upper” house 16 years ago, I was very hesitant to have people over due to the need to update and remodel. During a passing conversation with the hospitality coordinator from my church, she made the comment to not let my need to fix up my home keep me from entertaining. It instantly brought tears to my eyes. Her comment went straight to one of the deepest places of my heart. She had exposed two things about me…one good, and one bad. I love to share my home, and pride was keeping me from it…nothing else. Once that had been identified, I ignored the temptation to wait until all the renovations were done. We have worked on our home over the past 16 years, and it is still a work-in-progress (especially after the 2018 earthquake). If I had waited for it to be completely updated, we would have missed out on numerous opportunities to bless others and enjoy our friends and family.

When my dad became a Christian in his 60’s he added another element to his hospitality. His unrivaled, natural gift for it soon evidenced as a spiritual gift. Dad lit up at the sight of a visitor and made everyone feel welcome. He looked for ways to share his new-found faith with others in the natural course of conversation, he and my mother invited people into their home for a weekly bible study, and when he became bed-ridden near the end of his life, he took every opportunity to ask his caregivers about their lives and to tell them how Christ could be part of it if they were to so choose.

This demonstrates how Christian hospitality goes even further than general hospitality. There’s a motive there to extend the grace God has shown to us as believers to become part of His family. Romans 12: 13 tells Christians to “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord... Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” This summer as guests and visitors come through our Alaskan homes, I want to encourage my fellow believers to live out I Peter 4:8, 9 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Several years ago, one of our hospitable neighbors invited several neighborhood families into his home at Christmas. He had arranged for a local music group to come and lead us all in singing Christmas carols (both sacred and traditional). He had printed off the words and the music so we would be able to sing along. This neighbor had both visual and auditory impairments, but he did not let that deter him from coordinating this event. He wanted to bless his wife, his mother-in-law who had recently moved in with them, and the neighbors (who all attend a variety of churches in our area) by hiring the Mountain Waxwing group to play guitar and lead us in true Christmas fellowship. We had plenty of food and time to visit, but the lasting impact on us was a refreshment of our souls. That Christmas I remember the Christian hospitality from the man next door, and how he reached out to bless his family and the families around him. What a gift. He is now gone, but this memory of him lives on in my mind.

I tell you about this simply to encourage you to consider how you might extend hospitality to others for the purpose of extending God’s grace in your own unique way, and not hold back because of any physical handicap, any pride or shyness, any grudge or perceived inadequacy. What matters is your intent…to bless others and live out the Christian principle of offering and practicing hospitality. May God bless your endeavors this beautiful time of year and may you have joy in serving others, putting them above yourselves.

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