Hospitality is an action of warmth and generosity, which is contagious and warms the hearts of those it touches. It is warm, big-hearted, kindness in action and the Velcro that joins us together.
While visiting an old friend who used to be in our young adults group over 20 years ago she commented about the hospitality she remembered experiencing from us. Our home wasn’t perfect, but interestingly it wasn’t our funny little house, or the food, or whether everything looked perfect or not that she remembered but instead the fact that we were always welcoming, anybody could come into our home and that they felt loved and accepted when they did.
I’ve learnt over the years some helpful tips to aid us being more relaxed as we’ve sought to follow Jesus’ example to keep practicing hospitality.
Keep it simple – you don’t need to have a four-course meal or try out a new recipe at first. Just be who you are. If it’s a bbq, or brought pizza served on a napkin or paper plate embrace it and go with it. Just do it with a smile and in a friendly, warm, and generous way.
Start small – you don’t have to invite twenty people over all at once if you’ve never been particularly hospitable. Just invite one or a couple of people over to begin with.
Create a welcoming atmosphere – think about the music, lighting, and making sure the house is reasonably clean house; that the toilet and bathroom are tidy, and there is soap and a hand towel available. Have a game or something to do after dinner if you feel it might be needed. If you’re having families over then have ready a movie, some few toys or something to keep the kids occupied.
Check if people have allergies and any particular likes or dislikes when you invite if possible. Preparing a lamb roast while hosting vegetarians is a bit awkward.
Not everyone is an animal person – beware of guests with small children especially. Put pets outside or in a separate room if needed.
Plan – think about when; aim and schedule in for regularly inviting people into your home. Think about what you need: seats, plates, cutlery and then either borrow or buy what you need beforehand. Spontaneous is great, but if it is going to put you off being hospitable then plan instead.
Watch the level of alcohol consumption.
Jesus’ first miracle involved turning water into wine for a wedding celebration (John 2:3-11) but he cautioned against excess.
“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18 NLT)
“Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.” (Proverbs 23:20 The Message)
It doesn’t have to be perfect – the thing is to be welcoming, open and choose to invite people with a smile and love in your heart. We have had times where our ceiling was peeling and in the middle of the meal a big piece of paint dropped right onto the table in front of our guests dinner plate. Learn to laugh, take it in your stride and go with it.
The cake may not turn out perfectly, the roast may overcook, the kids probably will want to stay up past their bed time, (that’s okay it’s how they learn to be hospitable too – perhaps give them a nap beforehand or do lunch), but we get better at it the more we practice being hospitable.
Most importantly have fun being the Velcro that brings others together as you practice hospitality.
Prayer: Lord please help me to be like Velcro and to be a person who brings people together. In Jesus name Amen.