Happy Monday! Let’s start this week off by talking about hospitality. The featured picture is one that I took of my typical snack when staying at The Abbey of the Genesee where the monks consider hospitality to be one of their greatest gifts to others. I have been on the receiving end of this hospitality for more than a decade now and one of the significant ways came through Spiritual Direction with Father Jerome.
I think that the ministry of hospitality is too often misunderstood, underused, and overlooked. It is the act of allowing someone the gift of sacred space and quality time but people often equate it with a clean house and a lot of cooking. The fact is that it is easy to equate hospitality to Martha the busybody from Luke 10 but Jesus pointed out that it was Mary sitting at his feet listening intently to his every word who actually demonstrated it better.
– offering someone the gift of quality time
– making someone feel comfortable/valuable even in their own home
– offering someone a cup of coffee and good conversation to go with it
– a listening ear and a closed mouth
– caring for others’ needs before they have to ask for it
– more about “being” with someone than “doing” something for them
I know many people who have ministered through the typical definition of hospitality, an open home and an open heart, but there have also been those times when others have gone above and beyond and the overall effect cannot be diminished.
Some example are…
- putting an old orange recliner in the sanctuary to make it possible for a woman with cancer to worship with her church family
- sitting with someone on their deathbed so her son could get some rest before the inevitable, emotionally draining outcome
- showing up at someone’s house with groceries or a cup of coffee
- sitting next to a newcomer at church rather than in the comfort of your close circle of friends
- asking someone how they are doing and then taking the time to listen for the real answer
- Offering hug or flashing a maskless smile
- praying with someone rather than simply for them
- being willing to do extra cleaning after the fact to allow guests the option of keeping their shoes on vs requiring them to remove them
- thinking more of the comfort of others than self
- child proofing (at least to a degree) even if you don’t have kids
- sitting in silence even when it’s awkward as long as it is valuable to another
- learning to communicate with someone from another generation, culture, etc. rather than waiting for them to learn your ways and your customs in order to try to fit in
- attending to someone’s physical and emotional needs before worrying about the state of their spirituality or citizenship
These are just some of the acts of hospitality that I am personally aware of (and more often than not on the receiving end) and I’m sure there are many more to be discovered and tried so, rather than holding onto a narrow definition, let’s expand it together and be Jesus to everyone we come in contact with.
What is one way that you have shown or received hospitality recently?