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Christmas Advent 18: Preparing to Show Hospitality

Christmas Advent Day 18: Preparing to Show Hospitality

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9, ESV)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13, ESV)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16, ESV)

Hospitality (noun)- the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

I’ve taken a real shine to all things Joanna Gaines, like half the women in the western world. I’ve come to really appreciate a beautiful table and all the little intricacies that make it stand out. Fresh pine branches, real berries, the perfect pine cones and the warm glow of spiced candles make me a happy woman. All foods made from scratch, stockings hung on the mantle with care, and a picture-perfect tree are all things I aspire to have accomplished before I open my home to my family and friends over Christmastime. All of this is acceptable, of course, but what is not acceptable is how irritable I become thirty minutes before my guests arrive. Why? Because oftentimes these extra touches stretch my patience, and I find myself snapping at my family, sometimes slamming around dishes that didn’t turn out the way I pictured they would.

Maybe you can relate; you’ve had your own moments when you realized you’d overdone it. I know my family can tell when I’ve been guilty of overdoing it, because I find them tiptoeing around my mood. It’s in these moments that we get a good grasp of what hospitality is not. It’s not found in the setting or even in the season; it’s found in our hearts. 

When we take a close look at the definition of hospitality, we see it says nothing about the perfect setting. Most of us live in our homes, and while they are spaces we appreciate and find beauty in, they likely wouldn’t be featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They are places of comfort, and in that comfort there may be a little messiness. The great thing about showing hospitality is that we don’t have to have a perfect home or be a semi-professional chef in order to host others. All that’s required is a willingness to open our doors and our hearts—no fancy fanfare, just a friendly and generous spirit. 

When I think about hospitality, my mind often goes to the story of Mary and Martha. Martha busied herself in the home, preparing for guests, Jesus included. When He arrived, Mary sat down and visited with Jesus, enjoying His presence and learning from Him. Martha became irritated because there was work to be done and Mary wasn’t pitching in. But when Martha complained to Jesus, He chastised her for being too busy to appreciate His visit by sitting with Him. Martha was missing the point of true hospitality, thinking it was about the details and not the people. Martha is a woman I can relate to.

This Christmas season, I still want a pretty table, but I hope it isn’t my focus. As we open our homes for get-togethers and dinner parties and family time, let’s try to get past the setting and really see the people who step into our homes. They have needs, and they have put aside time to spend with you. Will they be received with warmness and love, or with hurried, last-minute tweaks to the perfect meal and décor? 

When Jesus spent time with people, He wasn’t in the least bit worried about how things looked or appeared. He provided them with what they needed physically, but He went much further than that. His greatest interest was in the spiritual well-being of people, because it’s what matters most. When we find ourselves as hosts and hostesses this holiday season, let’s stop and be present with our guests. Let’s listen for the needs of their hearts and willingly share Jesus with them. Let’s sit a while and put our feet up and just enjoy fellowship with them rather than thinking of what needs to be accomplished next. It’s in these moments that we truly show and experience hospitality the way God means for us to.

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