Monday, August 12, 2013

Entertaining thoughts

"Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers..." -Hebrews 13:1, 2a

A really elementary observation of this passage that our pastor pointed out today is that we are called to love 1) our brothers and sisters in Christ (philadelphia) AND 2) people we don't know (philoxenia). So we have a constant calling to care for our close friends and care for people who don't mean anything to us yet, at the same time. I think this is a good summary of the challenge to managing our social lives.

Whom do I personally prefer to spend time with? I think it's typical for people to feel comfortable with those they already know, rather than expending energy on getting to know new ones.

But to say entertaining one group or the other is easier or harder oversimplifies human relationships. Close friends, relatives, and especially fellow church-goers may be downright difficult to please at times!

In addition, our family has been discussing lately how we tend to find examples of kindness, thankfulness, and generosity in people who are not particularly religious. It might be a neighbor with impeccable manners, or a colleague with a heart for the homeless. Why do they seem to get it "right" without attending church and hearing these sermons?

What are our excuses? As Christians, we may try to overspiritualize simple good deeds, either by waiting for a "worthy" opportunity or in not wanting to offer praise to men lest we appear to be make idols out of them. In holding back, we may miss the opportunity to bless someone; to speak good things into their lives.

When I've had a sleepless night, the hardest part of the morning after is actually emerging from the covers and getting my feet to hit the floor so that I can start my day. After that, I may face a challenging day because of being tired, but by far the hardest part is actually waking up.

I think it is like that with hospitality sometimes. It is a lot of work to prepare for and entertain guests. Whether or not they are hard people to be around, there is always the cooking and cleaning and just setting aside our precious time. I think that for me the most challenging part is right before they arrive, with my stomach tied in knots just waiting for the doorbell to ring. But as soon as we are conversing, the blessings pour down.

We need to go back to serving a meal to people while not neglecting spiritual food. This is something my parents try to do on a regular basis. But identifying this as our calling is only half the battle. So many people around us are brothers or strangers. How do we know where to start?

I guess that brings me to my cozy bed and the breaking dawn. I just need to throw the covers off, grab my robe, and put my feet on the floor. But I'm not sure exactly what that means! What do I need in order to wake up? It is something to think about...

4 comments:

  1. Thought-provoking, in a good way.

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  2. Oh, I realize I do all my hospitality at church. I think it used to be that I did so MUCH of it at church - and really, almost all my friends were at church, too - that it was just all I had time or energy for. Now, after putting all the time and money into my present set of kids - well, let's just say, my home is no longer "suitable" for guests... So about the best I can do is ask people to meet me for coffee or lunch and pay the bill.

    :(

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  3. I was thinking more about the WHOM, but you've opened up a whole new set of questions. Does hospitality have to take place in a home? Does it have to involve food? What if my budget doesn't allow for it? Do I have to have a specific calling or "gift" of hospitality? I think there is something special about inviting guests into the place where you live, "suitable" or not. However, inviting people out is hospitable too, I feel.

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