Had a short discussion with my kids about their own hospitality. I can tell they are owning the discussion because they asked “How can we be hospitable without a house?” Their question is encouraging and revealing. It is encouraging because they recognize that the commands in the Bible for Christians to show hospitality are for them personally. They have a walk with God separate from what our family does, which means they are asking how they themselves can obey God’s word, apart from their parents’ resources. Their question also reveals a common misconception about hospitality. Hospitality is about people, not the stuff we have. We often focus on our house or our cooking ability or our personality as the basis for whether we are capable of showing hospitality. Actually, hospitality is simply loving people, in particular, people we don’t know well.
How do teens love their peers in this way? What ideas would you share with the younger generation? Perhaps I need to do better at communicating that they are able to use our home for hospitality, too. The difference is that they have in the past asked me to initiate hospitality (Please ask so-and-so over for dinner), and I’d like them to take the initiative themselves (Mom, is Tuesday evening okay for someone to come for dinner?). They show hospitality when they welcome and invite a new teen to sit with them at church, or make sure they get added to the group social media. They show hospitality when they pursue a friendship outside of the church walls. They show hospitality when they share their science experiments with the little kids who come over to the house with their parents.
When we lived in Japan, my concept of hospitality was challenged a bit. Tiny houses and limited parking made me reconsider the essentials of hospitality. Is opening one’s home necessary? Do we have to share dinner together? Opening one’s home is a powerful symbol of hospitality, especially in cultures where this kind of invitation is uncommon; however, showing hospitality is more than a home.
Several days after our discussion, I decided to ask them again to actually tell me what ideas they had about showing hospitality. I asked them to consider three key words: Sharing. Welcoming. Including.
We are moving again. Our time in Virginia is quickly coming to a close, and we’ll start a new chapter in Hawaii at the end of the summer. We are praying now that God would send us to a community that we can love and welcome. We are praying about new neighbors, a new church, new friends. Pray with us, and we’ll be praying for you!
George Herbert wrote a poem on love that fits our discussion.
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
‘A guest,’ I answered, ‘worthy to be here.’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.’
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat:’
So I did sit and eat.