Friday, June 10, 2011

God in the Yard: Hospitality

I thought it was interesting that while L.L. spent time in her yard every day for a year, that a lesson she learned was hospitality. God is the originator of hospitality. He freely gave His creation for us to enjoy, learn from, relax in, and live in. Isn't that wonderful? As L.L. says about her experience in her yard: "I'd come to think of this place as God's home."
Many Christians forget that hospitality is a command. We are to love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but we are also supposed to:

"... Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." ~I Peter 4: 9-10

Hospitality is a means in which to strengthen relationships within the church, and to evangelize our neighbors and friends. Again, in God's economy, He knows what works. If we are neglecting to obey the command of hospitality, then we as a body are not working to full potential. I have felt the neglect of others not obeying this command. I often feel that because we have a large family, then people are hesitant to invite us over. That is very hurtful. I also wonder if people think because there are so many in our family they might think we don't need the ministering to in that way. I will tell you that we do!! We may not be orphans or widows, but we have needs of hospitality. So ask the Lord who to be hospitable to. It may not be the obvious people in your church who live by themselves or the single mother. (Though they most definitely have that need.) It might be the family with many children who doesn't have family nearby to spend holidays or weekends with. Like us!! Am I alone in this?!!

L.L.'s chapter really got me thinking about what hospitality really means. It made me go deeper into just the tried and true method of inviting people over. The first person I thought about was a dear man at our church named Papa John. He was a greeter in our church. We could always count on seeing Papa John at the door welcoming us every Sunday. He always gave you a hug and sometimes a kiss on the cheek. He would bend down to your children and make them feel like they were the most special children on earth. He welcomed you into church and he welcomed you into his heart. He definitely had a gift. Sadly, he passed away last year. I just kept thinking about the impact he had on so many people by just being interested in us and in our lives for those few minutes every Sunday morning. He had so much love for all the people in our church. I miss his presence there even today.
All this made me think: "How can I show hospitality in other creative ways?"

At the end of L.L's time in the yard, her prayer was: "Let my home be as Yours."

An excellent prayer. How can my home, my resources, show someone Jesus? How can I invite someone into my home to serve them, refresh them, encourage them? As Jesus does.
I think women get so hung up on their houses. It's too small, it's too messy, I don't cook well. If you are not using your resources to bless, then others are suffering and you are too.

Jesus' hospitality is not about your house, your food, etc, etc, ad nauseum. It is about serving. As Sandy Coughlin says on her blog The Reluctant Entertainer :"It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."

Where does hospitality start? The verse right before the command of hospitality in I Peter 4, it says in I Peter 4:8: "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." What do we do first with our fellow brother/sister in Christ? Love them. With that neighbor? Love them. Then we are hospitable to them.

"Hospitality is a state of mind, not a prescriptive agenda." ~Duchess

Again, hospitality may be a command, but the first rule is love.
Not a set of rules or schedules, but love.
It starts at the heart:

"The idea that God is life, the Life of the life of all living things, is a key to the practice of hospitality..." ~Nanette Sawyer

How can this thought radically change your view on hospitality? Making it more about loving others because He loves us, and less about your home or the food?

A posture of welcome:

Hospitality can very well happen outside of the home. I think about Papa John. Says Sawyer,
"In a state of reverence, we stand in the full presence of another, while being fully present ourselves. There is deep acceptance and love in this state, as we encounter the image of God in each other."


"Generosity is a posture of nurture," says Sawyer.

"Nurture comes in so many forms. It can be the process of planting a seed (literally or figuratively), giving physical or emotional sustenance, picking up the pieces when something has broken (a life, the loss of life). True nurture flows from receptivity and reverence. There's a fine line between this and duty." ~L.L. Barkat

What are some other creative ways to show hospitality?
~initiating a potluck with another family at the park?
~initiating pizza in the backyard?
~bringing a meal to a home and sharing it with another family?
~letting go of our expectations for how hospitality "should" be?