Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hospitality Beyond the White-Picket Fence...

Who says that hospitality can only take place in the home?

As we've already discussed, hospitality is a state of the heart. Therefore, we should take it with us wherever our travels take us.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could make people feel welcome just by our presence? Can we, for a moment, reflect on how we might have felt had we had the chance to meet Christ face-to-face when He walked the earth?

The children who were viewed as nuisances by His disciples - He told them to come to Him. The woman under assault for her sinful life - He told her she was whole and to "Go and sin no more." Zaccheus, the corrupt Publican-leader who stole from "the least of these" - He told him to come down from the branches and dine with Him.

We could go on and on.

And here is an important thing to remember - Christ did not have a permanent dwelling place in which He laid His head each night. He went where He was needed - a holy vagabond, but one with a divine purpose. He did not lack direction or purpose - He went to show His love for His people. And He did it without a big, gorgeous house or an elaborate menu or pockets full of money. His purpose was not to impress others but to impress upon them His love for them.

And now He commands us to love one another. To live beyond our white-picket fences for His purposes. To take what we learn at the altar out the back door of the church and into the world. We're to know Him and make Him known. And we best make Him known through how we represent His kingdom as we interact with His creation.

God has given us a wonderful opportunity to represent His kingdom through our acts of hospitable love and kindness to others.

So, how can we make hospitality portable?

What is the state of our hearts as we go about our daily routine? When we are out doing our grocery shopping or daily errands, are we kind to those around us? Do we treat others like the God-created beings that they are, or are we out to accomplish our own agenda only? Are we impatient in the check-out line? Do we complain and grumble if our lunch order is not perfect? Do we hold those around us up to unreasonably high expectations in order that we might be served? If hospitality is a state of the heart, we need to start with a heart check.

Wouldn't it be exciting if we could all head out of our homes with the purpose of putting a smile on someone's face, someone we don't even necessarily know? Could we turn our primary tasks of grocery shopping, hair cuts, dental and doctor appointments into secondary tasks of making someone else smile? Wouldn't our errands suddenly become more exciting if we viewed them as divinely ordained opportunities to reach out for Him? I love that thought!

What about that mom with the screaming kids who looks like she's just about to lose it? Could we encourage her by gently letting her know that we understand and have days just like that too? Or what about striking up a conversation with the lonely elderly person in the grocery store aisle with you? Even if it puts you behind schedule by ten minutes, that ten minutes could have given that lonely God-child the strength to get through the day.

Or how about simply walking around with a smile on your face? Did you ever notice how contagious a smile can be? I've personally been affected by other people's smiles. A smile seems so simple, but it can really speak to a heart.

Or we can think on more concrete ways of showing hospitality outside of our homes. Making meals for a new mother, an elderly couple, a working mother, a financially-hurting family or just a random neighbor. Wouldn't you appreciate a call at 11 am informing you that your neighbor wanted to bless you with that night's meal?

Bake some cookies or brownies. Package them up simple-like or you could go a little more fancy. They taste the same whether they are packaged on a disposable plate covered with cling wrap or tied up with a pretty bow in crisp cellophane. Now, if you're like me, you can add some extra-special finishing touches to make your neighbor feel extra-special, or you can just give them a simple plate of cookies with a little hand-written note.

Visit a nursing home. You could take just yourself and your little ones, or you could also take along a small sugar-free treat for the residents. Our church carols at local nursing homes each Christmas and Easter, and the residents just absolutely LOVE having us and our kids around. You can just tell that it absolutely makes their day! We always take little crafts that our Wednesday night children's group makes, and this makes it even more fun for them!

Call a friend who you haven't spoken to for a while and arrange for a time for you to treat her to coffee or tea at a local restaurant or coffee house. It's so hard to keep in touch with friends, and so this would be a treat for both parties!

Send some hand-written hospitality! You know that I love handwritten notes! Who doesn't like to find a hand-addressed envelope waiting for them in their mailbox? Send some loving hospitality through the postal service! Take the time to write a nice letter to a friend or relative, letting them know how much they mean to you.

Here's one that may stretch us... The man who sits on the corner with the sign. How about a quick trip through the drive-thru for a hot meal and a cool or hot drink (depending on the weather) to hand off to him through your car window? Maybe a note on the take-out bag letting him know that you will pray for him? Not sure if he "really needs the help"? Then go by the Holy Spirit's leading and trust His prompting. If He says "go", then throw reason out the car window and go.

Father ~ Show us all how we can take hospitality on the road. Help us, help me, to reach beyond our own little worlds and see the bigger picture. Help us to be willing to sacrifice our time and our comfort zones in order to better serve you through reaching out to those who need Your love. Father, I admit that I need Your divine assistance in this. I often become way too comfortable and complacent and often find my roots digging just a tad too deep. Father, awaken my soul to see fresh ways to encourage others, love others, and witness to others through my life and my actions. Show me who you want me to reach out to right now; prompt me through Your Holy Spirit and then give me the courage and discernment to do it. In Your Son's life-giving name, Amen.


A Primitive Homestead said...

I am enjoying reading you posts concering hospitality. For so long it has been on my heart to reach out to the kids in my neighborhood. So few attend church & I am not sure they have ever been taught of Christ. These kids are not accepted by most of the neighbors. More less known by the neighborhood as the outcast heathens of the neighborhood. Even by the church goers. It bothers me beacuse they are the next church. Christ came to seek & save the unloveable. When the church will not reach out to them who will? Your blog post subject would be a good subject to use in a sunday school lesson. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

Rhen @Yes, they are all mine said...

This is a major topic in our house. We often talk to our children about how they can positively affect the people we encounter when we leave our home. How can we show them the love of God? In what way can we make their day a little brighter?
Wonderful post!