Crazy Auntie Maxine is at it again … the US Senator from California states, “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere …”
Wow. Again … Wow. It seems we keep tumbling down the rabbit hole with little to slow down the descent of civility. Some say one of the reasons we are spiraling out of control is society no longer has foundational institutions that play a role as community anchors and bedrock to much needed civility. This is referring to institutions like churches which are being minimized, sidelined, and pushed out of the way as insignificant. What can be done? I believe there is a solution, and you can be part of it. A return to civility in society can be ushered in through a strong ethic of the prioritizing a personal practice of hospitality, which can specifically be seen as a ministry of hospitality. (See yesterday’s blog to see some insights from Scripture).
This is not new – nor is it exclusive to Judeo-Christian ethics. The Greeks practiced Xenia, the generosity and courtesy shown to those far from him, as well as his companions – developing a guest-friendship. Maybe they did it because they thought Zeus might be in disguise and they wanted to bless and be blessed. The term theoxenia refers to entertaining the God’s themselves, a popular subject in classical art.
Basically they held to two basic rules …
1. Respect from host to guest. Take care of them, show great courtesy, etc.
2. Respect the host. Be courteous and do not be a burden.
Key word here … respect.
Here are some practical ways you can start the process of seeking to show hospitality.
– Make a list of those inside and outside your church/organization that you would like to encourage through an invitation for a meal. (Individuals, a family, a specific subset (singles, military spouses, college students away from home, seniors, shut ins, international students, business travelers at local inn, etc)
– Put it on your calendar to start as soon as possible. If you put it off, it will be forgotten.
– Think spontaneous too. Invite the first time guest right after church.
– Pray for joy through the process and during the time of interaction with your guest.
– Be flexible, it doesn’t have to be at your home. Think hanging out at the local diner, have a coffee or smoothie (can you say Sweet Frog). Or maybe just a serendipitous gathering. I love the ‘turquoise table’ story I heard on the radio last week. A delivery truck left the heavy picnic tables in the front yard. The home owner decided to leave it, paint it turquoise, and use it to connect to her neighbors. Within minutes, neighbors stopped by and the rest is history. This practice is spreading … around the world!
– Don’t be discouraged at ‘no’ or if it has speedbumps. Just keep at it and let them know they are valued. Stay at it. Romans 12.13 says to be constant, or persistent in our practice of hospitality.
– On a smaller scale, it could be simple sitting with guests at church, be part of greeter/connection ministry, etc.
There are no strangers here;
only friends you have not met.”
~ William Butler Yeats
Let’s replace Maxine’s rhetoric with a mantra of … you may different than me, but we care for you, we welcome you, and we wish to spend some time with you – anytime, anywhere.
Rooted in the Old Testament, repeated in the New Testament, and revealing the nature of God’s grace in our lives and a grace offered to all — hospitality can make a difference on our world. Be part of making a difference.