Last Saturday was our annual ladies conference at the chapel and the topic was hospitality. SO MUCH good stuff packed into three sessions. I was challenged, inspired, and humbled. I saw hospitality in a little different light and was reminded that it is so much more than just having people over for a meal.
Here are some of the key verses we talked about:
Romans 12:9-13 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Wow. Hospitality requires a whole lot of love. Devoted, sincere, unselfish love. It also requires pursuit. We should look for opportunities to show hospitality and as Nancy said "pursue it like you want to wrestle it to the ground!"
Hospitality should be continuous. It should not be neglected.
Hebrews 13:1,2 Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
1 Peter 4:8,9 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
Hospitality requires fervent love without complaint. It requires laying aside self. It's not about me.
We also studied 2 Corinthians 9 and talked about the blessings that come out of hospitality and how God gives us what we need in order to be hospitable for Him.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
One of the cool things about hospitality is that it can happen anywhere at anytime. Think about that. So if you're worried that your house is too small or too messy....take a meal to someone, go visit someone in the hospital, or make an effort to talk to someone you don't normally talk to. It's not about you. It's about others. Be creative. There are so many ways to show hospitality. It's about receiving and treating others in a warm, friendly, generous way and sharing Christ with them.
Nancy gave me a great book as a gift when Ry and I got married. It's called The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin. Most of its focus is on entertaining people in your home, but it's packed full of practical tips and delicious recipes. I highly recommend it! If you don't get the book then definitely check out her blog http://reluctantentertainer.com/
If you're shy and reserved like me unless you're around certain people, then you might be a little nervous about having people over, but this book is wonderful and encouraging and makes even a shy person feel like they can host a dinner party! :)
Speaking of reserved people.... In the book Sandy talks about how she and her husband usually have a question or two in mind to ask their guests and then they go around the table and each person gets a chance to share their answer. It results in deeper connections, learning things about others you may not know, and drawing people out and making them feel valued.
Here's a little tidbit from her book about that:
A few summers back i held a dinner party in my backyard for some women friends. I asked a simple question that would break the ice and help us learn more about each other: "What is new in your life, something that none of us at this table might be aware of?" As we went around the table that glorious summer night, some went deeper than others, but it was beautiful to witness the passions and gifts that were flowing from each individual. We all benefited from seeing each others recent accomplishments or current tasks at hand.....After the dinner, a more reserved friend commented on how special the "question" part of the evening was for her. She admitted that as the quietest person in the group, she often feels insignificant and out of the conversation when a dominating person takes center stage.
I can so relate to that woman as I can be pretty reserved in groups of people and sometimes have a hard time inserting myself into conversations. I'm also soft spoken and often don't speak up because I'm afraid nobody will hear me. Just typing that makes me laugh because it's stupid, I know. I've gotten a lot better about that. :) Sometimes it depends on the people I'm with and sometimes I really shock myself and pretend to be outgoing. ;) So, I'm definitely going to be using the question idea when I have people over. I think it's a great way to get conversations going and give everyone an opportunity to share life with each other.
Another little nugget that really challenged me was about investing in friendships with older people...
Older people have nothing to prove, so they are sometimes more authentic and enjoyable. They've lived most of their lives, climbed the ladders of their careers. They've raised their children, and most are now grandparents. They just don't talk about themselves as much, the way younger people tend to do. They are not interested in comparing their lives. Instead they share their lives, and none claim to be experts about everything. They tend to be much better listeners, and all of this helps them forge deeper and more genuine relationships.
That is so true. Too often we overlook older people. There is so much we can learn from them if we just take the time to reach out to them. We forget that they were young once too.
There is so much more I could say. Just wanted to share what's on my heart lately. Hopefully my disconnected thoughts will be encouraging to someone else too. I'm so very thankful for all hospitable people in my life who are such great examples and have taught me so much just by watching them. My mom and mother in-law, Melissa (my sis in-law), Kristi Graves, Gloria Smith...and the list could go on. Maybe in another blog I will share some specific things I've learned from them. Most of all I am thankful for the ultimate example of hospitality demonstrated by God giving His Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I can spend eternity with Him. THAT is hospitality.