An Invitation to Be Welcome

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Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” 1 Peter 4:8-10 

It started with the simple cleaning out the second kitchens drawers where I came across a beautiful set of inlayed chopsticks and it morphed into an oriental themed party; complete with a table for twenty-four, 18” off the floor for low seating, servers in kimono sashes and live mini koi in the centerpieces. I cannot help myself! I love themed parties.

I don’t own fine china, but when the Dollar Tree sees me coming, they roll out a red carpet. IMG_7399When I buy plates in various patterns and colors, I struggle to decide if I need 26 or just round it up to 30. I have an unknown sundry of stemware and glassware, and tubs of themed décor. Do you need a 46-cup coffee maker? I have four. Do you need pretty large 3-gallon drink dispenser? Take your pick from my collection. If you are coming to an event, you may be told it’s in the party room; code for two stalls of a 5-car garage that my hubby converted in order to accommodate my passion for entertaining. This creative bent can steamroll out of control if I am not careful. My husband is a great sport and for the most part cooperates, but he did make me remove the 500 pounds of sand I covered the basement floor with after one of my kid’s beach parties….all by myself!

Besides loving to entertain, I hope our family is hospitable. Whether we are home or not, we want you to feel welcome. It’s fun to arrive home and find families in the pool or a couple of guys sitting in the family room watching an important game on the large TV. I don’t know how many people have the code to get into the house, and we’ve learned not to walk around in our underwear because you never know who could be in the next room. We recognize our home is a gift from God so, an open door policy is a way to serve our extended gospel family and friends. In fact, it has been so ‘open door’ that once we came home from vacation to find the front and side door wide open and evidence of a raccoon’s visit. (Needless to say, we’ve tightened down security measures, so if you don’t have the code, we may loan you a key instead.) Last year we were able to completer our dream and build a two-bedroom guesthouse with a bunk-room that sleeps 18. Our hearts desire is for our lives to exude Romans 12:12-13 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” I love a full house, most of the time…

When a godly woman once asked if I felt I “had the gift of hospitality or I just liked to entertain”, I was taken back. I had to do a little heart search along with some biblical inquiry. You see, we are commanded to “not neglect hospitably” (Hebrews 13:2) and although I knew the difference in the two, was I using either for His kingdom work?

It’s a huge mistake to consider my ‘Party-Planner-Extraordinaire” a spiritual gift. My love for entertaining and my desire for hospitality may cross over, but they are two distinct matters. Nowhere does the bible tell me to practice entertainment. In fact, when speaking of entertainment, most of the time it is not in a good light. It’s usually at the order of kings for self-pleasure, and sinful indulgence. If you examine the synonyms of entertain vs. hostility, you will realize the stark difference:

Entertain: beguile, captivate, charm, distract, enthrall, gratify, divert, engross, enliven, humor, indulge, occupy, stimulate, make merry

Hospitality: Accommodation, companionship, friendliness, generosity, reception, warmth, affability, cheer, comradeship, consideration, cordially, heartiness, welcome, good cheer

Romans 12 tells us to remember to “seek” hospitality, many interpretations use the word practice or pursue. This tells me that hospitality is not something that always comes naturally. It is something that we must work at. I must admit, some people find it much easier because of their personalities than others, I’m one of those, so I can’t take any credit, He just put that in my nature. However, it is obviously a character quality that all believers are expected to and can obtain. I also noticed that hospitality is mentioned in the context of it being difficult, loving others, serving enemies and in the midst of trials.

When I am planning a big party or event, I have the privilege of setting boundaries, scrubbing the house from top to bottom, giving the family their assigned responsibilities, choosing the convenient date and time, asking for RSVP’s and choosing the perfect party favors. But when I am showing hospitality, it can seem to come at the most inopportune times. My calendar isn’t always going to be clear and the house may have dirty clothes piled by the laundry room. And, unless you drink Diet Coke, there may not be anything else to drink and if you dig you may find a canister of stale animal crakers. Showing hospitality doesn’t require 30 matching Mexican plates. Showing hospitality doesn’t require a bed for each guest or a well-planned dinner that incorporates all the food groups. Hospitality is friendly, accommodating,  generous, warm,welcoming, cheerful, …and it takes practice!

Cheerful? In my study of God’s word for clarity about entertaining and hospitality, I found another command; I’m to do it without grumbling! (1 Peter 4:9) When it comes to entertaining guest, I have this unexplained delight with all the planning and lists and prep, with the cleanup; all this brings me some sort of supernatural grace. But I must admit that showing hospitality without grumbling, without griping, without complaining, and without whining; this take practice! It takes an earnest pursuit. It takes me examining my motives and many times it causes a need to repent. I’ve even had to apologize to my family for some of my sinful attitudes that follow unexpected opportunities to “show” hospitality.

After my time of reflection and examining God’s word, I’ve concluded that there is room for both entertaining and hospitality in God’s kingdom work. I’ve concluded that I can embrace my love of parties, and use them to enjoy Jesus. I can practice hospitality and work on areas where I find myself resentful and not wanting to serve others. Using any gifts in service to God are ways to display His transforming grace and the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

Oh boy, I just found a bag of glittered seashells….

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