“If there is any concept worth restoring to its original depth and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality.”Henri Nouwen
Giving respect to the space between the meal and the clean- up, we all sit around the table not ready yet to interrupt the sacred space. Stomachs are full, the kids have run off to play and we begin to offer tea or coffee to our guests. They politely refuse, but instead begin to ask us more questions about why we are here. Why would we bring our family of 6 to this exact city and country?
We both begin to explain, sharing stories of how God called us and how God was faithful to provide. Our guests began sharing stories about their faith traditions with us, but also telling us how good it is that we are here. They haven’t found many people that speak English and so they said they have been lonely. Leaving our home that day, they said they would be back soon. This time, they would cook us some Indian food.
We came to Hungary knowing that Christian hospitality was to be a fundamental part of our ministry, but we weren’t sure who the Lord would ask us to invite into our home. So, we waited for people of peace to become evident. It didn’t take long before we began connecting with international college students that would come by the church service. We began to invite students into our home to cook an “American” meal for them. Then it would turn into them coming back again to cook an authentic dish from their country for our family.
“If, when we open the door, we are oriented toward seeing Jesus in the guest, then we welcome that person with some sense that God is already at work in his or her life.”Christine D. Pohl
God has kept opening doors for students to come and feel at home here in our flat. Our prayer is that it will continue to be a safe place for students, of all backgrounds and religions, to experience the love of Jesus and to ask deeper questions of faith. Some students come to our church community on Sundays, especially if they are believers of Jesus. Other students, who are not believers of Jesus, will gladly come to our home, but not make a commitment to come back to church.
We are seeing first hand what we have believed for quite some time, a ministry of hospitality (outside the four walls of the church) is an imperative part of reaching others for Jesus.
“The future of Christian hospitality is partly tied to the future of the home and family. Recovering hospitality will involve reclaiming the household as a key site for ministry and then reconnecting the household and the church, so that the two institutions can work in partnership for the sake of the world.”Christine D. Pohl,
Just as we are accepted and loved into the safe arms of Christ, we too can extend the gift of acceptance and love through Christ. Hospitality is an act of opening our homes and our hearts in order to give others the love of Christ, through the overflow that we have received.
During this Difficult COVID time, we have been unable to open our home as much as we would of liked. Great news, we can show hospitality in so many ways! Gathering up items to make American Apple Cider kits, we put gift bags together to deliver to people at their front door. My daughters helped me to write out verses to include in each bag and we hope that the Love of Christ was extended with each one we delivered.
“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”Romans 15:7
Where is God inviting you to be hospitable this week?
- the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
Hospitality can take on many different forms during varying seasons of life. The breaking of bread with others around a communal table can be seen many places in the Bible. I have also witnessed hospitality as an act of creating a sacred space for others to safely share their hearts no matter where this might take place. Hospitality can look like giving time to your neighbor as you chat across backyard fences, taking food to a widower on your street or simply offering to create space in your family for someone where family simply doesn’t exist.
Here are some practical ways you can think about hospitality as a spiritual discipline this next week:
- Take some time first and offer up this discipline to the Lord. He knows what people you will come across and who He wants you to welcome into your moments this next week. Pray that He will send you people of peace.
- Keep your eyes and heart open to those around you. Who might be someone that you can extend an invitation towards this week? It might be for a simple cup of coffee on the front porch or a meal in your home. It could simply be a person who comes to church alone and would appreciate sitting with a family this next Sunday. There are so many ways to be hospitable!
- Think about some ways that you can extend hospitality on “the go” this week. This can look like delivering cookies and a note of blessing to someone you want to encourage. It can be calling someone who lives far away and giving them honored space in your day. Even paying for the person in front of you at Starbucks this week!
- Generously consider how God might lead you to open your home to others as a spiritual discipline. There are more ideas that I can list, but some are: game night for college students, a front yard ice cream party for the kids that live on your street, a tea party for high school teenage girls or a backyard bonfire with someone you have just met.
- Consider ways that you can show hospitality, a generous welcome, to others outside of your home: serving your church community, a homeless shelter, the firehouse down the street or a nursing home.