Faithful Living: Show your love with hospitality

Nearly 30 years ago, when my husband and I married and set up house, we were greatly influenced by writer Karen Burton Mains’ book, “Open Heart Open Home.” She contends that Christian hospitality is just another word for love and when you learn the joy of sharing, that brings you closer to God. In light of this approach, I have cringed at moments when friends have shown up just as I have dumped a load of clean laundry onto the kitchen table for folding. Then I remember they are arriving to see us, not to scrutinize our undergarments.

And perhaps this is the point: There are few times when we have sensed God is calling us to be entertaining. What I believe God really wants us to be is hospitable. Available. Welcoming. Generous. Spontaneous. Somewhat vulnerable and always real.

I watched hospitality in action every single time I was invited to visit Nicky Robson’s home as a young girl. Nicky used her expertise as a homemaker and kitchen manager during the years she ran the large industrial kitchen at our church. She also loved more than anything to bring her large extended family together for holidays, anniversaries and birthdays.

Nicky and her husband Bill were never deterred by their modest income or small home. By the time we all arrived we not only filled every single room of their house, but poured out into their backyard as well. There was no formal dining room, but it never mattered. We lined up in her kitchen, heaped our plates with amazing food, then headed to any available location to visit and eat. Many times we grabbed a spot on the rug or snagged the corner of a bed. And yet we would rather be there in their home than any other place. They modeled grace and love, charm and generosity. They were all God called them to be and continue to serve as examples, even after their passing.

If you would like to identify a biblical model for hospitality turn to the gospels for references to two women, Mary and Martha, both identified as sisters to Lazarus who is famous because Jesus raised him out of death. They were a good team and brought to their home different aspects of hospitality. Martha was the worker bee. She planned, cleaned, cooked, and probably ran herself ragged, especially when Jesus arrived. Mary chose to be hospitable by displaying interest in her guests’ words and demonstrating a worshipful attitude through personal interaction, rather than focusing on the atmosphere of their home.

Are you so busy planning and preparing for the holidays that you allow no time for God? Are you using your own style of hospitality to serve people around you? Does a desire to worship God motivate hospitality in you?

Let’s give some thought this week to those who will join us in the coming weeks. May ways to love and serve them be our motives, and may we anticipate some great experiences.

Reach Joan Bay Klope, faithfulliving@hotmail.

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