Sunday School @ 9am • Sunday Service @ 10am
Some cringe at the thought of opening up their home. Visions of cleaning up the strewed messes, making sure the toilet bowl sparkles, and fearing guests will see the couch stain has barred visitors from crossing your threshold for years. Plus, you do not have an open-concept home and there is no shiplap anywhere. How embarrassing.
Then there is the cooking part. What if they figure out the lasagna is actually Costco lasagna? And the silverware is a mishmash collection of spoons, forks, and knives that came from Aunt Milly when she passed, and the rest is a hodgepodge collection you picked up over the years.
And what if the conversation around the table drags? The fear of “dead air” and everyone starring at their plates freaks you out. Or, maybe the guests overstay, and you wonder if they thought it was a sleepover.
How did I do? Did I leave some of your fears out? Probably.
But what if biblical hospitality has nothing to do with the above? That is, the heart of hospitality is not about our homes, our ability to cook, or whether we are good conversationalists. Rather, it is simply sharing our lives for the sake of others. It is loving people. It is experiencing fellowship. It is getting to know others and giving opportunity for others to get to know us.
Paul tells us to “seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13). So does Peter, “Show hospitality to one another” (1 Peter 4:9). Widows were expected to (1 Timothy 5:10) and hospitality is listed as a requirement for elders (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8).
The point being we are to do this. And if it needs to be said, we can do this. It does not need to be Pinterest worthy. Pizza anyone? Paper plates even? Some music in the background to fill in the gaps? There you go. Instant party.
Here is what I envision, call it a challenge if you want. What if church families strove to open up their homes once a month? If we did, that would mean on any given Sunday, half our church would be in each other’s homes sharing a meal, sharing life, and sharing Jesus with one another. I salivate (we have been talking about food) thinking about all the organic and weekly ministering that would be going on within the church.
Some of the rules would be we cannot keep score, counting how many times we invite people over versus how many times we get invited. No reciprocation expected. Acknowledge some of the gatherings will feel more natural and will go well, while others will feel less natural and may even drag. These simple rules would help us stay focused on why we are doing what we are doing.
When we were a smaller church, knowing everyone was relatively easy. As we have grown, it has become a greater challenge. I like the challenge. God has richly blessed us with a diverse collection of individuals and families who all have a wonderful story to tell. So, let us hear them as we gather around the table over a meal.
I suspect when you say good-bye and close the door behind them, you will say to yourself or others in your home, “Now that was fun, wasn’t it?” And I bet your guests will be saying the same thing as they drive away.
Pastor Rich Hamlin
February 4, 2021