The Responsibility of Hospitality

Post by Therese Kay

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The dictionary defines hospitality as: "the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers."

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Some receive this mandate of hospitality with some resistance.  Including me.  We think of dinner parties and events and cooking and cleaning and shopping and scurrying around like a crazy person.  I love having a friend or two over for a cup of tea, but the thought of hosting a Holiday dinner like Thanksgiving stresses me out.  All that work.  I get tired and cranky just thinking about it.  We often think of the need to impress our friends and family with a super tidy and nicely decorated home and a well-cooked fancy meal with all the fancy china and table cloths.  This is so not what Jesus had in mind.

Let's look at that definition of hospitality again: "the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers."  Making our guests feel welcome in our home, providing them with warmth, comfort, and generous kindness is so much more important than the fanciest china we own or don't.  

If we forget the friendly and generous reception part, we are in danger of having Martha's experience rather than Mary's.  

Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV): Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

 
“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
 

Now, I will be honest.  I'd be as annoyed as Martha, if my family were sitting around chit-chatting instead of helping me get the meal on the table.  But that chit-chatting is connection.  That chit-chatting is also hospitality and is no less important than the meal.

Rather than resenting the chance to serve and connect with our guests, we need to seek to connect with them and welcome them.  Carry the yoke of responsibility to cook and clean for them lightly.

In Part 1, Day 5 of the devotional, Kathleen shares this:

 
Then practice being completely present for whatever you are doing, whether working or resting. Weariness comes in when thoughts about work fill your rest time, and work is a constant longing for freedom from the task.  Don’t resent the things that make you an adult and responsible person; instead, make peace with them. Carry the yoke of adult life lightly, remembering that I always help you. My life in you makes you strong. My counsel can keep you on the right path, where you won’t lose your footing or waste your energy.
 

Be present in the moment while you are cooking and cleaning.  Be mindful that in doing so, you may be entertaining angels!

Matthew 25:40 "And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’"

Just as you serve your loved ones, you are serving Christ.  

In Part 5, Day 6 of the devotional, Kathleen reminds us that we can give to Jesus, just as He has given to us.

 
“I give to you, but you can also give to Me. When Mary of Bethany spent a year’s wages anointing me I said, “She has done a beautiful thing to Me.”
 

Let us pray:

God help us to remember that we can do beautiful things for you by doing beautiful things for the people around us.  In the hustle and bustle and stress, help us to remember to choose presence and connection with those we have invited into our home over serving with resentment or trying to impress.  Amen.