Posts Tagged ‘meaning of hospitality’

Have You Ever Been the Stranger?

Have you ever felt overlooked, looked down upon, ignored, or had people distrust you because you were different? Have you ever felt invisible? I know I have.

Years ago when my husband and I were searching for a new church home, we walked into the lobby of a very large church and were immediately directed over to a huge metal rack. The rack was full of name badges, one for each member of the congregation, who upon arriving, picked their badge off the rack and pinned it on. We were instructed to fill one out for ourselves, which we did and we then spent the next 1 1/2 hours without being greeted by a single soul.

What was meant as an exercise in hospitality had become a dead tradition.

Name tags, though they can be helpful, do not produce hospitality, do not truly welcome the stranger, and do not build community.

People build community.

Do you know who make the best "greeters?" It's the people who were once strangers themselves, the ones who remember what it felt like to be invisible.

Have you ever wondered why homeless people, even after receiving assistance and offers of help, so often return to the streets? It's because the sense of belonging is so powerful. For many, it's the only place they've ever experienced acceptance.

It's been said that we think what we need most is safety. The homeless have something to teach us – what we need most is acceptance.

Hospitality is about acceptance.


Hospitality in a church setting is a reflection of God's gracious welcome. Congregations that don't emphasize shared life will have a difficult task in reaching out to strangers. Sometimes, though, even churches who seem to be doing it right, fostering a sense of care and community among members, can lose sight of the strangers in their midst.

How would you rate the sense of welcome in your church family? It can be very healthy to visit other churches periodically to remind yourself what it's like to be "the stranger."


Eat, love, pray!

"It's not about the food and it's not about me."

When I was young I taught myself to cook and discovered I was a natural, especially at baking. Given my insecurities back then, this was like adding an extra handful of yeast to the bread dough – that sucker's gonna' puff up! Here's how I thought about cooking :

I prepare the food, people eat the food; they love it, they love me! It's all about me!

It stood to reason that if they loved me for my single layer Austrian hazelnut cake, they'd really love me if I baked a twelve-layer Dobosh Torte. Talk about ego; Showing hospitality? More like showing off. Plus I always had to outdo myself – what if my cake falls, what if I forget and make the same dish? What if they don't like it/me?!

Fast forward to 2005. I became a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and while studying the art of public speaking, I read a quote about the difference between an amateur speaker and a professional: the amateur takes the podium and says "Here I am!" The professional looks out at the audience and says, "There you are!"

Hospitality is basically saying, "There you are!" It took a while, but gradually I came to understand that you can  be a fabulous cook and not be the least bit hospitable, and you can be the most hospitable person in the world and not have a clue how to cook. I knew how to cook long before I knew how to be hospitable.

THE LAST COURSE: In her book, The Lady in the Palazzo, Marlena De Blasi says, "It's not what's on the table, but who's on the chairs."  Don't misunderstand; food and hospitality are intimately related, but sometimes we need to adjust our priorities. Great cooks and not-so-great cooks often share the same problem: pride and ego and can get in the way of connecting with others. And isn't connecting what it's all about?    

 *Some of my favorite people are seated on these chairs: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers!  


sdfsdfsdfsdfsdfsdfs*Seated on these chairs are some of my favorite people: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers! *Seated on these chairs are some of my favorite people: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers! *Seated on these chairs are some of my favorite people: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers!

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What is Hospitality? part one

A tavola, non si invecchia.  "At the table, you don't grow old," declared my first year Italian instructor.

Maybe that was true in Italy – but not at my house. My intentions were good, but by the time I'd finally get the food on the table, I felt older than the aged cheese on the antipasto tray. I loved cooking and entertaining but often wound up missing the party because of the over ambitious menus I planned.  

I'd picture my guests and myself at the table, deep in conversation, or gathered around the stove, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, but it’s kind of hard to connect with people when you’re desperately trying to spin threads of caramel on a humid summer day, or attempting to make cantaloupe mousse in January when the melons are hard as a rock. Yes, I did that. I was a harried hostess because I totally misunderstood the meaning of hospitality. Then I met Shelby.


The Key to Hospitality

When I first met her I was a mess, depressed and depleted from a seemingly endless season of family struggles,  illness,  job loss and the resulting financial stress. Shelby heard about it and invited me to her lakeside home for what she called a “little retreat.” When I pulled into her driveway, I saw a small-scale Airstream trailer parked near the entrance. Shelby greeted me, handed me the key to the trailer and told me to stay as long as I liked. I could have stayed forever. Shelby had papered the ceiling and walls with maps, murals and posters of exotic vacation spots; reading materials were stacked next to a comfy built-in bed, soothing music played in the background and there was a note encouraging me to walk down to the lake or take a nap if I wanted. A few glorious hours later, she knocked on the door carrying a tray with tea and coffee and cookies. By the time I went home, I felt like a new woman –  I will never forget her or that afternoon.

Someone who I didn’t even know had seen a need and realized they had the means to address it. In the book Radical Hospitality, it says, "Hospitality is the overflowing of a heart that has to share what it has received." Shelby showed me hospitality by first, perceiving the need, and second, by sharing what she'd received: the gift of creativity. She employed her gift to create a place of respite for the weary and the hurting.

THE LAST COURSE: What gifts or talents have you been given that you could share with others? Freely giving them away ensures that your own Divine Supply will never run out.