October 20, 2010

True Hospitality

A few years ago, Kyle went to west Africa to determine possibilities for mission partnerships with our church. The most significant moment on the trip--one he still talks about--was an experience of Christian hospitality. The missionaries took him to a remote, poverty-stricken village where they had seen significant fruit from sharing about Christ. The people in the village, aware of Kyle's upcoming visit, had pooled their meager resources and traveled many miles both ways to purchase a Coke to welcome this American pastor. When Kyle and the missionaries arrived, they danced and sang and greeted him with the lukewarm Coke, which was subsequently opened, passed around, and given to the guest of honor to finish off.

The African villagers had little to offer, but what they did have, they gave of freely and with great joy. What a mark of true hospitality!

Here are some other thoughts on true hospitality that have encouraged and challenged me:

Our houses need not resemble a page from House Beautiful magazine. Regardless of their size and style or our financial status, our homes can exude warmth and provide refreshment for all who walk through their doors. They should be pleasant havens for our husbands and children, sanctuaries where we offer care and hospitality to other Christians, and gateways from which we extend the gospel to family, friends, and neighbors. So I have made this my prayer: "Lord, help me to build the kind of home where all who enter find it impossible to keep from thinking of God."---Carolyn Mahaney in Feminine Appeal, pg 114

I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.
When we stop everything else to gather around the table and eat a meal made by someone's hands, we honor our bodies and the God who created them. We honor the world he made and the beauty of creation. And in that moment we acknowledge that even though life is fast and frantic, we're not machines and we do require nourishment, physically and otherwise.---Shauna Niequist in Bittersweet, pg 36

 So He, Himself promises not only to sup with us, but He has told us that when we care for people in real need by sharing our eating and drinking with them, He considers that we have done this directly 'unto' Him. Jesus will communicate with you, as you eat alone, as you talk with Him and read His Word and think about Him, and will be with you in a real way. But there is a very important truth to recognize beyond this, and that is that the only way we can actually prepare a meal lovingly and with great attention to beauty and tastefulness, for Jesus, is to prepare it for "one of the least of these" His brethren. That added touch of beauty, the extra bit of work, the imaginative creative cooking, if done by the Christian with a conscious love for the Lord, is not only helpful to the individuals for whom we are cooking, but is accepted by the Lord as having been done for Him. How can it be anything but important, and utterly worthwhile?---Edith Schaeffer in The Hidden Art of Homemaking, pg 127-128