The past few weeks, in my quiet times, I've been working my way through a book called "Life Issues" by Wendy Virgo... it was a gift from a good friend when Ava was born and has been a real blessing, challenging my thinking about being a wife and mother in many, many ways and making me evaluate myself, my motivations and whether I am being purposeful as a mother, wife and woman of God...
This past week, I've been looking at the topic of Hospitality. I like to think of myself as a pretty hospitable person... Dave and I love having company... we're both "people people" and I enjoy having a good old catch-up over a meal. But I was challenged, this week, by a question Wendy Virgo asked, which I'd not really thought about before...
What is the difference between entertaining and hospitality?
Hmmm... suddenly my "I'm very hospitable" attitude became... "or do I like entertaining??" Entertaining is no modern phenomena... inviting good friends round for a nice meal and the opportunity to impress with your culinary skills, beautifully decorated home and good conversation goes back hundreds, if not thousands, of years (just watch one episode of "Downton Abbey" and you'll soon see it was the norm!) Was THAT what I was? A mere entertainer? I don't remember "the gift of entertaining" being spoken about in the Bible, although there are plenty of mentions of hospitality... so what's the difference?
Wendy Virgo describes hospitality in the early church; "The people did not cling possessively to their homes; they were open-hearted and gladly shared their homes and possessions with one-another" Hospitality is not about putting on a good show; inviting your good friends, laying out your best china and whipping up that Jamie Oliver speciality... no, its about opening your home up as it is... to the vulnerable... to people who are in need in some way... perhaps they don't have family nearby... perhaps they are struggling financially... perhaps they are new to the area and don't know that many people yet... perhaps they just need a listening ear... perhaps they have never experienced a loving home... perhaps they are still getting to grips with the english language, so conversation is awkward and so no-one invites them... there are lots of people who are in need... all of us hit that point at some point in our lives, and having an open home where people can come and off-load over a cup of tea to a listening ear... that's hospitality. Somewhere where people can come armed with their three children and shovel down spaghetti bolognese and not worry if they spill a bit on the floor - that's hospitality! Somewhere where people know they can show up on the doorstep and they'll always be welcome... that's hospitality!
So I've had to stop and realise that perhaps I haven't been showing hospitality recently, and its about time I start practicing it!
Jesus says, in Matthew 25:40 "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me". When we show kindness and offer hospitality, we are honouring Jesus... whether its inviting someone into your home, cooking for someone whose just had a baby, popping round to an elderly neighbour for a cup of tea or spending time with an international student.
So why don't you join me in attempting to offer some hospitality this week!