The best days of summer are those you can spend outside with family and friends – not getting drenched in a thunderstorm downpour and not fleeing to somewhere with air conditioning in a heat advisory. This summer I hope to find numerous occasions and excuses to invite people over on a lovely summer evening.
Offering hospitality like that is not simply a nice thing to do. I understand it as a Biblical command for anyone who is in Christ: “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
The trouble is, it’s easy for me to confuse hospitality with hosting. If I think I’m supposed to be a good host, then Martha Stewart is my role model. I want the house spotless. I want the lawn freshly mown. I want to take out the good dishes. I want to offer fancy hors d’oeuvres. I want the kids to be on their best behavior.
While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of those things, none are requirements for showing hospitality. Hospitality is first of an all an attitude. It’s the willingness to get to know people and have a heart tuned to welcoming others. This can be done in a messy house over coffee served in old, cracked mugs.
Hospitality, though, is not only about welcoming people I know. The original Latin underlying the word hospitality is hospes, which means stranger or even enemy. I believe Jesus calls me to show hospitality not only to family, friends, and neighbors up the street; he wants me to open my life and heart to strangers, to people I don’t know and might not even want to get to know. After all, Jesus showed grace to me by dying for me despite me being a sinner, being like an enemy to God. When it comes hospitality, Jesus is my role model.
How might the Spirit of Jesus be nudging you to extend hospitality this summer as he is with me? Use these examples to fire up your imagination:
- Plan with others on your street a neighborhood BBQ, potluck, or game night.
- Smile and say hello to people on the street and employees in the store.
- Introduce yourself to someone who is of a different ethnicity than you.
- Deliver a fruit or candy basket to new neighbors.
- Invite a widow or widower out for coffee or over for a meal.
- Offer to babysit for free.
- Volunteer to be an ESL partner.
- Talk to someone after a church service or at an event who is standing by themselves.
Like myself, people long for hospitality, to be welcomed and be known. It’s a gift I desire and a gift everyone (you and me included) can give regardless of how clean the house is.
These reflections appear in this week’s Rock Valley Bee.
I concluded with noting how we usually have ice cream in the freezer to share with anyone who happens to drop by our house!