A Look at Hospitality

I had a chance to practice hospitality this week end. Notice I didn’t say “entertaining”.

To me entertaining is something you have time to prepare for. Hospitality is something that happens at the last minute when you forgot to clean the bathroom and have a load of laundry on the floor waiting to be folded.

Hospitality is seeing a need and meeting it, whether you’re ready or not.

We discovered Sunday morning that our pastor was “batching” it for the weekend while his wife and children were out of state unexpectedly for an funeral. I quickly whispered to my husband to invite him for lunch.

Then in the car on the way home I started issuing orders to my troops (I mean children), just like my mom used to do.

My Dad was notorious for inviting people to Sunday lunch at the spur of the moment. But Mom was up for the challenge and would start issuing orders as soon as the car was out of the church parking lot.

“No one wants seconds on meat, the roast isn’t very big”

“Only one small potato a piece, remember you are not hungry!”

“Teresa grab some more biscuits from the freezer, open a new jar of jelly. Check how much ice cream is left, we can use that to make the apple crisp go farther.”

“Becky hide the ‘unmentionables’ drying in the bathroom, close the shower curtain and make sure there are no wet towels laying around.”

“Sandy pick up all the papers in the living room and make it look good.”

“Melinda set more places at the table.”

“Tim find a chair for everybody!”

We were ready to jump out of the car and put the plan in motion just as soon as dad pulled in the driveway. At most, we had 10 minutes of lead time before the guests arrived. Dad’s job was to greet them at the car and walk them s-l-o-w-l-y to the door.

Then we would all relax and enjoy a wonderful Sunday afternoon of fellowship.

We enjoyed the same kind of afternoon yesterday!

My friend Jan Bloom, of Book’s Bloom, travels with her husband to home school conferences all around the country selling books. She recently wrote this in her blog:

“One of the wonderful perks of being on-the-road gypsies is our opportunity to stay in people’s homes… When we hit the road with Mighty Whitey and carried our home with us (a mattress in the back of the van), we began accepting invitations to stay in the driveways of folks, use the shower, and get to know the families that were hosting us. It’s been one of the most profoundly enriching and enjoyable things in our lives.

We have been hosted by families who live in small homes and families who live in large homes. We have been hosted by large families and by couples who are childless…We’ve discovered that those who welcome us into their homes really don’t care what we do as long as they can serve us. It is very humbling to be served. It makes ME want to serve like that when I am home.

If you are thinking that you do not have what it takes to host someone in your home – for a meal, for a night’s sleep, for a shower – you probably have incorrect ideas about what it really takes. It doesn’t take a beautiful home, an incredible meal, or superior entertainment. It takes a servant’s heart, which is free for the asking!

Consider practicing hospitality: with family members, those you meet at church, and those who are traveling through your area, like missionaries or homeschooling vendors. Gathering around a table sharing a meal, playing games, talking and laughing, and oftentimes sharing and praying, is a oft-neglected art in our modern age. But it is a precious gift – both for you and your family, and for those who receive it.

We are SO thankful for all those who have opened their homes, their hearts, and their lives to us over the years. We look forward to our return visits…Part of the joy we’ve experienced is the joy of making friends and visiting them again and again.

I am writing this while sitting at a friend’s computer in her home that is always a bit frantic and messy. Yet we know that whenever we are coming through we can call and stop and be loved. We are blessed! We LOVE our job!!!

(See the complete post at http://booksbloom.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/happy-hosting/)