Hospitality

There are so many ways for us to practice and demonstrate hospitality, and a world of people to receive it

I like to think of myself as a great hostess. I love the whole process of inviting someone into my home. Cooking and baking (and eating) are things that bring me a lot of joy. I find it fun to arrange my table in a way that looks beautiful and inviting. I’ll light a few candles and pop on the perfect playlist of music so the atmosphere is just right.

Last Christmas, my flatmate and I decided we would host a Christmas dinner for a few of our close friends. We invited our three guests, and immediately I began to visualise the place settings. I wrote a shopping list for five, taking into account the one vegetarian, one vegan and one with a dairy allergy. A few days later, my lovely flatmate asked if it would be okay if she asked one more friend who she knew would be alone that evening. “Of course,” I replied, adding one more folded napkin to the image in my head. Then again, the following week, “I hope it’s okay that I asked another two to join us.” And once more, “Great news, this person can also come along!”

Gradually, my visions of a beautifully curated dinner party were nudged aside by worries and concerns. I only had six matching plates; now the table wouldn’t look quite so nice. I had only put one bag of potatoes on the shopping list; would I need to add another? There aren’t enough seats around the dinner table; where will the other three sit?

I’ll admit to feeling a little indignant on the night of our Christmas dinner. My hopes and dreams of what I believed to be ‘hospitality’ had been outshone by my flatmate’s “the more the merrier” attitude.

Believe it or not, hospitality in the Bible refers to something so much greater than a folded napkin or a scented candle. In fact, hospitality in the Bible is not even about being welcoming to friends and family. The word most often used in the Bible for hospitality is ‘philoxenia’, which is made up of 2 words: Philo – meaning the kind of love displayed in friendship – and Xenia – meaning stranger or foreigner.

Hospitality is about welcoming people, who we didn’t know previously, into our lives, homes, families and communities and showing them deep love and kindness.

Now, it’s easy to love and welcome people who are like us. We often get as much out of it as we put in. I invite someone for dinner, we get on well, they invite me back. Sure, there’s a bit of a cost in terms of time, money for food, maybe energy if you’re an introvert, like me. But usually, in this sort of scenario, there’s some reciprocity. Showing love and welcome to those who don’t reciprocate initially or in the way we expect it can be more challenging. We might encounter differences and experiences that can seem like barriers to building relationship; perhaps conversation doesn’t flow as easily, you don’t share the same favourite food, day-to-day rhythms or likes and interests.

Hospitality is something that is woven through the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testament.

‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19: 33-34

In the book of Leviticus, God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to welcome strangers, and to afford them the same privileges and treatment as though they were “native born.” Why? Because Israel, God's people, were once strangers in Egypt. This law is listed alongside others such as “Do not lie,” “Do not steal,” and “Do not hate.” It’s part of God’s covenant with His people. It’s to be at the core of how God’s people love, follow and worship Him. Hospitality matters to God.

Jesus, God in human form, demonstrated radical hospitality in the way he loved, cared for and sought justice for those around him. He kept company with the poor and the outcast. He drew near to those considered unclean with a compassionate touch. Something I love about Jesus’ hospitality is that he stepped into the lives of others. In the story of Zacchaeus, in Luke 19:1-10, we read that Jesus found the despised tax collector and said to him, “I’m coming to your house.”

I wonder how it felt to be Zacchaeus in that story. Was he worried about the mess he had left in his home that day, because he wasn’t expecting a visitor? Did he have to scramble to find something to feed Jesus, having planned to only eat leftovers that night? Hospitality, if we are to follow Jesus’ example, is, at times, vulnerable. It’s showing the real-life parts of yourself and stepping into the real lives of others without expectation or judgement.

But Jesus didn’t just show hospitality towards others. He was himself a stranger who, as The Message translation so beautifully puts it, “moved into the neighbourhood,” (John 1:14 MSG). And in Matthew 25, he has something important to say about those who show him hospitality. He identifies those who are blessed by the Father and whose inheritance is the kingdom. Who are those He blesses? Those who have shown hospitality to Jesus.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36

He says that the righteous will ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry? When were you a stranger?” And Jesus replies,

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Jesus lays out some of our basic, fundamental needs here. Food. Drink. Welcome and shelter. Clothing. Care. Company. He says, “When you meet these needs of those around you, you encounter me.” Hospitality is a blessed and holy thing, drawing us closer to our Father and Jesus. And when we draw near to Him in this way, we learn more about His character and nature.

There are so many ways for us to practice and demonstrate hospitality, and a world of people to receive it. To whom in your life could you show invitation and welcome? Into whose world could you step in, without expectation, judgement or a desire for reciprocity?

Right now, there are thousands of children and teenager in care who are waiting for the right home and family, be that through fostering, adoption or supported lodgings. There are families who could do with the loving support of a community who can cheer them on and offer practical help. What if we were to worship and love God by showing love and welcome to others? What if we were to open our doors and pull up a few extra seats at our table, even if at times that feels challenging, or doesn’t quite fit with the ideas we have in our head of ‘family’ or ‘home’? What if we were to step into the lives of others, embracing vulnerability?

What if we were a people of hospitality?

Author:
Rosie at Home for Good


Date published:
June 2022


Tags:
Articles


Share:


Related pages

Being ‘Church’

Being ‘Church’

Home for Good believe the Church is ideally placed to make a transformational difference, offering more safe and loving homes for children and teenagers who are waiting and a robust and stable support network ready to welcome and care.

Read more
This is a justice issue

This is a justice issue

In Jesus, we see God’s care for His people demonstrated in word and deed. In Jesus, we see God’s love of justice in action.

Read more

You might also be interested in

Holding on to HOPE

Articles

Holding on to HOPE

At Home for Good one of our values is that we are hopeful – or hope-full. Why is that so important to us? There are lots of reasons, but here are three of them.

Read more
Why we love festivals

Articles

Why we love festivals

We can't wait to join you at a number of festivals this summer, including The Gathering in Swindon, Festival Manchester, New Wine and Creation Fest. Find out why.

Read more
How to ‘nail’ the summer holidays

Articles

How to ‘nail’ the summer holidays

you consider how you can navigate the summer as those caring through fostering, adoption or supported lodgings.

Read more
Levelling up for the self-employed: Home for Good launches a new report

Articles

Levelling up for the self-employed: Home for Good launches a new report

Today, Home for Good is publishing a new report entitled, Adoption pay: Levelling up for the self-employed.

Read more

Connect locally

I would like to find out what is
going on in my area

Connect Locally

Join our mailing list for the latest Home for Good news and ways to get involved.

Together we can find a home for every child who needs one.

£
Other amount
£
Other amount

£25 per month could help us create and collate inspiring articles and blogs that encourage and inform the families and communities who care for vulnerable children