One of things that impacted me greatly on our trip to Boston was seeing true generous and sincere hospitality in action…like I have never experienced before!
Don’t get me wrong I have experienced amazing hospitality in many ways and a multitude of times throughout my lifetime from friends, family, fellow parishioners, casual acquaintances and business associates…but this was different. The hospitality that was shown to me and my daughters was given freely to us by complete strangers. This couple had never met us before we arrived at their home and the only connection they even had with us was through their daughter (who also had never met us) who has been a college student with my daughter for just over two months.
And their hospitality was abundant!
Besides the most obvious hospitality of simply opening their home to perfect strangers to stay for several days (which in itself is something sadly so few people would even consider doing) they made us feel so welcome and special:
- by not allowing us to take public transportation from the bus station to their home and insisting on picking us up with enthusiasm & excitement.
- by carrying our heavy bags
- by welcoming us in their home with fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies and a cup of tea while we sat at their table enjoying delightful conversation while gleaning valuable information on what a visitor to Boston should do in one day
- by insuring we had everything we needed — directions, towels, keys to the house, use of the computer and printer, an umbrella in case it rained….
- by telling us to making ourselves comfortable and at home
- by having a counter full of breakfast options for us the next morning before we head out the door for a day of sightseeing
- by being sincerely interested in our lives, our thoughts, our interests and our ideas and engaging us in lively stimulating conversation
- and ultimately by even allowing me to stay in their home the final night I was there without them even being home as they had a weekend retreat to attend. (I know of some family members who don’t “feel comfortable” having their own relatives in their home when they are not there!)
I was blown away and blessed!
They were a living, breathing example of how the Word of God instructs us to live….
1. We are to practice (defined in Websters as: “repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency”) hospitality to God’s people.
“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 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.” 1 Peter 4:8-10
2. We are to show hospitality to strangers
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2
3. We are to invite strangers (even the least of these) into our homes.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:34-38
How are you doing in this area of hospitality?
Most of you likely have no problem being gracious and hospitable to your family, friends and loved ones. You may even do ok with some of your more casual acquaintances or those who sit down the aisle from you in church.
But do you practice (“repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency”) hospitality to God’s people who you may not personally know? Are you eager to show hospitality and give help to those in need?
I know from my personal experience of trying to find homes for missionaries to stay in or vehicles for them to use during their furloughs as well as trying to find short term housing for Christian youth groups, children’s choirs or students visiting from other countries that we believers often fall woefully short in this area of hospitality.
I’ve heard every excuse in the book (although mostly there is a deafening silence when calling on believers to open up their homes or share their things) as to why they can’t practice hospitality
- I don’t feel comfortable having people I don’t know in my home (since when was living as a Christian comfortable….I thought there was a lot about service, sacrificing and suffering)
- I don’t have room (almost laughable in America….if you have floor space, you have room)
- I do not have time to clean my house (ugh! let it go people)
- I just got back from vacation or I’m leaving for vacation next week (and……?)
- It’s not a convenient time (heaven forbid if we should ever be inconvenienced by God’s word)
- That is really not “my thing” (hmmmm…well perhaps it is God’s “thing)
- I don’t let anyone use my car…I mean what if they get in an accident…I don’t think it is wise (don’t get me started on the “not being wise” excuse that Christians use for a multitude of things that just make them uncomfortable)
The laundry list of excuses, both spoken and unspoken is exhausting.
Now how about showing complete strangers hospitality or inviting them into your home?
Now this is a stretch even for those believers who regularly practice hospitality to God’s people and to those who struggle with hospitality to believers like mentioned previuosly….inviting strangers into their home is likely considered insane.
Really Lord….you want me to show hospitality to complete strangers?
Ok, I can be friendly and welcoming to strangers (perhaps they are angels)….but invite them into my home Lord?
Yes please invite me into your home…says the Lord…did I not tell you when you invite a stranger in you are really inviting me in?
Perhaps brothers and sisters it is time to evaluate our skills and proficiency in the area hospitality as well as our obedience to the Lord. (and believe me I am talking just as seriously to myself) Here are some ideas on how to begin:
- The next time someone asks you to host a student, help a missionary, provide housing for a believer in need or share your “things”…don’t hesitate just say an eager & enthusiastic “yes!”
- Invite others into your home on a regular basis to share a meal or a cup of coffee or afternoon tea and practice your hospitality skills
- Open up your heart and your home to stangers…whether it is situations like my daughters and myself who needed a place to stay while visiting in the area and have no extra money for lodging, or perhaps a foreign exchange student for an extended stay or maybe the Lord will lead you to take in someone in dire straights in need of food and shelter. Ask the Lord to bring you these opportunities!
Perhaps some of you have ideas for us on how we can perfect and sharpen and become hospitality “experts”…I would love to hear them!
Thank you to this warm and wonderful couple for giving us such a beautiful example of hospitality!