The Ministry of Hospitality

From Open Hearts, Open Home:
"I have discovered that even an innate inclination to hospitality must be honed and refined, imbrued and filled if it is to be more than concern about centerpieces, menus, table settings, and spotless rooms.

For Christians, hospitality is a marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit given so that we may minister to this dying society. If our hospitality is to minister, to impart to each who crosses our threshold something of the presence of Christ--if it is to transcend the human and deal in the supernatural--there must be an agony of growth, a learning, a tutoring hand of the Holy Spirit. For some, hospitality is as natural as breathing. For others, the practice must be acquired. For all, it must be nurtured."
When we ditch the Martha Stewart, TLC, keep-up-with-the-trends sort of housekeeping and entertaining model, and instead begin to think of hospitality in terms of serving and loving others, and creating an atmosphere where Christ can be clearly seen as supremely valuable (to borrow a phrase from John Piper, in his "Don't Waste Your Life" sermon), it becomes much less pretentious and overwhelming. Don't you think?

At the same time, it presents an even deeper and difficult responsibility on our part, to have homes that are welcoming, content, and simple yet challenging, just as Christ Himself was. Having an inviting and open home is something we can do in direct obedience to the Word of God (Matthew 25 and Hebrews 13), as a ministry of significance and value, regardless of what "stage" of life we're in. As women, we want our homes to look lovely and inviting, and it can be embarrassing when things are a royal mess... and yet, we must not let this goal of tidiness or presentation become an idol that takes priority over this basic welcoming spirit we're to have in the name of Jesus Christ.

I'm learning some new things about hospitality, and hope these things I'm learning might challenge and encourage you, too.

10 comments:

mere said...

This has been an area that is hard for me. We attend a wonderful church but we live on the other side of town from it's location. I've wanted to be hospitable but everyone has to drive so far to get here. One other family lives even farther, from the church but closer to us. Lately, I have had the opportunity to pick up four of this family's wonderful kids from a local homeschool co-op, so that they can rest, relax and otherwise unwind before their dad who works in the same town that I live in, comes to pick them before driving more than twenty miles to get home. Last week he had to work late and I providentially happened to be making a double batch of spaghetti and meat sauce for supper, so there was plenty to go around. I was so glad they could come and be here, with me and my kids, instead of being stranded in an empty building waiting for their dad. My house is not perfect...with four small children it is pretty untidy but I am now seeing how important it is to be able to open my doors when needed. I am blessed indeed.

mere

EllaJac said...

Boy that's good... I live two TOWNS away from our church... I've given up on trying to invite others out, and I think God wants me to expand my area of blessing... like up the driveway to the new neighbors? I'm working on it, but yeah, having not been well-trained in the household management area, it can be challenging... Thanks again.

Lindsy said...

Oh, yes! I am excited to see what you have to share on this issue.

I've really been desiring to be more hospitable, though living under my parents I can't be hospitable in nearly the ways I hope to be someday (shaping a house to be very inviting but not fancy, having groups of people over for dinner, having more access to a kitchen, opening my home to traveling missionaries, inviting females that need a temporary place to move in if they lose a house or need assistance because of surgery, opening up my library. . .). In the meantime, I'm eagerly squirreling away ideas of how to do this. I hope that God will grant me the heart and the wisdom to serve others in this way, to really love and serve and upbuild people for His kingdom, and also to really help make a life that for all I know may be spent of me living in a house otherwise on my own a life of community and mutual edification....

Erin said...

Hospitality is a ministry that is so overlooked but is so important. It is an area that I love and hope to more of a concious effort to use for God's glory.

Sanders said...

Sorry - this is random. Have you posted on potty training? If not, can I email you? I need some advice on timing.

Buffy said...

I like the whole Martha Stewart thing but thank you for raising my consciousness about the other side of hospitality.

Jess said...

Buffy,
I like Martha Stewart too... for ideas, for inspiration, etc... just not for a model. I don't want to have the pressure of achieving perfection or using all the right appointed decorations before I welcome people into my home.

My phrasing may say something different than I intended- but it is the MODEL that she and many other TV shows present that I would encourage people to "ditch" instead of diteching her as an instructor in the "school" of cooking, decorating, and beautifying the home. She's great at that, and (clearly, by her popularity) we could all learn much from her about decor, cooking, etc.


Sanders,
Feel free to e-mail me at makinghome@pobox.com. I've never posted about potty training, but I have potty trained two boys so far, so I'd be happy to share what I know and see if any of the "tricks" in my potty training tool box can help you. :)

~Jess

Mom said...

You are so right about everything that you said! The best time I've ever had when people would come over in the past was when I was more excited about the people coming over than how beautiful, etc. my house looked! Now, mind you, I was also happier when it was as clean as I wanted it to be, etc., but it was a great feeling to just be able to relax and have fun with people and fellowship, rather than worrying about how things looked.

Cahleen 何凱琳 said...

I long to have one of those homes where people just feel instant love and warmth as soon as they walk through the door. What better way to bless someone and share the love of Jesus with them? This is why I need to learn how to cook -- so I can actually feed the guests I invite over!

shannon said...

Thanks so much for posting on this. I am really bad about getting distracted by having a clean and tidy house and I stress out rather than focusing on representing Christ. It is even harder in a different culture because I don't want to offend anyone but I am still learning things so sometimes I just give up on trying to be hospitable at all. Having a clean house seems more tangible and more within my control...my heart and attitude of service seem so abstract and more difficult to control. I should focus more on spending time asking the Lord to show Himself through me than on decorating or cleaning my house.