Monday, November 15, 2010

'Tis the Season for Entertaining

Erik and I love opening our home to people - he is the entertainer who makes conversation easily; I am the planner who gets excited about serving dishes and punch recipes. It is a joy to us and not surprising that hospitality scores high on both of our spiritual gifts inventories. We have hit the season for entertaining and so it has been nice to read several articles and books lately that help me keep perspective on what is truly important about hospitality. One article I read on the Raising Homemakers blog urged me to "think about the difference in 'entertaining' guests and showing biblical hospitality". It went on to say:
Entertaining is all about the hostess–how perfect my house is, how nice the food is, how perfectly the setting, and on and on. Hospitality focuses on your guest–meeting his/her needs, drawing your guest out by listening and asking questions.

Entertaining obviously causes the hostess a great deal of stress in preparations, thereby making her guests feel stressed out too. Hospitality focuses on making your guest feel comfortable by having a welcoming spirit.

Entertaining must always be a planned event, whereas hospitality can happen very spontaneously, gasp, even with a messy house or unmade bed!

Likewise, in Max Lucado's book Outlive Your Life I was drawn to a chapter entitled Open Your Door; Open Your Heart. Lucado writes
Long before the church had pulpits and baptisteries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. "The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts" (Acts 2:46 NCV). "Every day in the Temple and in people's homes they continued teaching the people and telling the Good News - that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 5:42 NCV).

And then continues
Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It's no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: "You matter to me and to God". You may think you are saying, "Come over for a visit." But what your guest hears is, "I'm worth the effort".

This season of entertaining may I remember that it is about the guests, not the centerpieces; that it is about sharing God's love, not about sharing the finest culinary delights. May I commit all of my plans to the Lord and may those who enter my house know that they matter to me and they matter to God.

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