Discovering beauty in the ordinary

Discovering beauty in the ordinary

Guest post – On hospitality

Guest post – On hospitality

I asked my dear friend Suzanne to write a post on hospitality – she’s always been an inspiration to me in the area of hospitality, so I thought you all could also benefit from her thoughts and ideas as well! Enjoy!


A Journey to Hospitality

by Suzanne Fenton

 

My journey to hospitality began at age 23 as a young wife.  Marriage revealed that my husband had the gift of hospitality, but for me it didn’t come naturally.  He would be the one to initiate inviting guests over, and then my stress would begin.  I can see that younger me now—cleaning furiously, sweating the small stuff, and basically driving all joy out of the experience.  Until one day, a package arrived in the mail from a dear pastor’s wife.  Inside was a coffee table-type book of sayings and inspiration about the home.  One quote stood out to me in particular—“To bless, not impress.”  I quickly realized that in carrying out my husband’s wish for hospitality, my motive was to impress our guests.  I repented, wrote out the quote, and stuck it front and center on the fridge as my new hospitality mantra.  From that day to this, I have {imperfectly} tried to keep that idea foremost in my mind when preparing to have people in my home.

 

Another leap forward in my hospitality journey was three years ago when my husband and I were challenged with the idea of “Emmanuel”—God with us.  Ok, time for a heart check:  are there any ministry opportunities or types of people you are excluding because they aren’t “safe”?  Are you “circling the wagons” when you should really be opening your life and extending the love of Christ to others?  Those were questions we had to ask ourselves at that time—and continue to ask.  Hospitality can mean risk—real or felt.  But we have the presence of Christ—Emmanuel!  Because of Him, we can do it! What feels risky becomes safe when we are hand in hand with our Savior.   That “aha” moment led us to have foreign exchange students in our home.  And now, it has led us to open our home to needy children whose parents are in crisis.  It’s only because of Emmanuel, my Ezer, that I can do this.  I am weak, but He is strong.  I’m counting on that as we head into this new level of hospitality!

 

I’d like to share a thought with you from Dorothy Sayers in her book Letters to a Diminished Church“When one really cares, the self is forgotten, and the sacrifice becomes only a part of the activity. Ask yourself: if there is something you supremely want to do, do you count as self-sacrifice the difficulties encountered or the other possible activities cast aside?  You do not.  The time when you deliberately say, “I must sacrifice this, that, or the other” is when you do not supremely desire the end in view.  At such times you are doing your duty, and that is admirable, but it is not love.  But as soon as your duty becomes your love the self-sacrifice is taken for granted, and, whatever the world calls it, you call it so no longer.” (p. 11) Hospitality is a duty—the Bible is clear (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, I Peter 4:9).  But I want to move from duty and self-sacrifice to love.  “The love of Christ compels us,” Paul said (II Corinthians 5:14).  That’s my prayer.  “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”

 

“Hospitality” and “having guests over” can all sound so formal.  Erase that mentality from your mind!  Hospitality is the love of a stranger, therefore it presents a kaleidoscope of ways to put that into action.  Read Jesus’ beautiful words in Matthew 25:34-40, “I was a stranger, and you invited Me in…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”  Hospitality might mean setting a formal table and serving dinner, but more likely it will look like having the neighbor boy over (again), babysitting someone else’s children, having teens in for pizza or giving them space to hold their activity, having a friend in for coffee to talk, getting to know your neighbors over cookies, hosting foster children, taking a new family at church out to eat, and you can fill in the blanks from there!  You have a gifting from the Lord—use it to love a stranger—someone outside your family.  See Jesus’ image in people and do it “to Him.”  Your genre of hospitality will look different from everyone else’s—fancier, plainer, more or less frequent, visible, behind the scenes, etc.!  The goal is love poured out as to Christ.  Emmanuel is with you—bless, don’t impress!



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