Many people have the notion that hospitality means formal, like the dinner party in the painting above. However, nothing could be further than the truth! Most of our hospitality is of the casual, 'come if you can' variety.
Sunday afternoons are a frequent opportunity for us to do this, even after a fellowship meal at church. We often invite whoever wants to come over to come. This includes families with teens, families with little ones, teens without their families. It's fun and a great opportunity to get to know people. As the day turns into evening, we light some candles and light some lamps for ambiance. We make coffee and tea and we settle in together.
Last evening a couple of young men from a new to our church family came over along with the usual crowd. It was a wonderful time - the little people played, the teens got a game of Taboo going, the adults chatted about everything as usual. We snacked and ate a pancake and egg casserole supper. Usually people bring food along to share, which is a good thing as last evening there were 29 people at our home including the seven of us!
To make sure we are prepared for hosting a crowd, we make sure we keep some easy to make foods in the freezer, we declutter the living room and kitchen, and we make sure the basement and the kids bedrooms are tidy. That's it. Sometimes we have people here at the house and I haven't even mopped my floors! Hee hee, well that happens most of the time actually!
During the week we also had our pastor over. Mike is a single man who appreciates a home cooked meal and good fellowship! We made sure that we made a dessert we knew he liked but otherwise he came for a family dinner.
This is such an easy way to offer hospitality - just include people in what you are doing. Going to the park? Invite a family to go with you. Having dinner? Invite someone to come share it with you.
People have a need for connection. They want to be noticed and included. Don't be intimidated by families with lots of kids or a family with young children. Often these families don't get invitations as people tend to worry about what they would do with them. If you know a family with lots of kids and you have a small home, why not invite them to meet you at a park for a picnic. It is easy to say "We would like to get to know you all better, but our home is so small. Would you like to join us at the park for a picnic? We will bring the meat and rolls, would you bring a salad and dessert? This is a win win situation. You get to reach out to others and the parents can relax, let their kids play at the park (which the kids will love) and the parents don't have to worry about their kids and your house!
Don't let the size of your home, or your finances keep you from fellowshipping with others. Seriously, we made pancakes for dinner last night, Becky brought a couple of egg casseroles and everyone was full and happy!
The Mom of the new family said they were looking for a church, because they and their kids have had such a hard time finding people who would talk to them at church, the kids especially. She said "Fellowship is something you all do really well." It's true. The families in our church are very warm and welcoming. Last week we were at a different family's home, everyone brought food to share and we had a great time.
If you are not used to practicing hospitality, I encourage you to do it. It's fun and it is important. When you get to know others it helps you know that you are not alone as you walk through this world, scripture tells us to do be hospitable without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
Most importantly it is key that you have a hospitable spirit. When you are warm and welcoming it doesn't matter if you feed people breakfast food for dinner, and eat off paper plates. They leave happy and filled, because you showed that you care about them.
I would love to hear your ideas for practicing hospitality! Do you have people over often? What kinds of things do you do?