rowing up in a military family and marrying a USAF member, I got to experience hospitality all around the country and in Okinawa, Japan. Interestingly, most of the hospitality I've received centers around food.
A true Southern hostess will offer her guest a glass of iced tea practically before she gets all the way through the door. In New England, it's a cup of coffee or tea offered.
One of the most comforting things I discovered about my husband's family early in our marriage was that no guest ever goes hungry. When she was able, Granny (my husband's maternal grandmother) always had a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Even though her mind drifts on occasion, at 92 years old she still invites us to her house with this: "Come on up. We'll fix something good to eat."
I'm not the true Southern hostess you would expect from a woman born in Biloxi, Mississippi and raised by a mother from Spartanburg, South Carolina. If I get unannounced guests, I'm more likely to grimace in panic than smile in welcome. The panic comes from never quite feeling the house is fit for company. I try to keep sweet tea in the fridge (according to my chef daughter and grill cook son, the best ever!). I haven't quite mastered the art of keeping a meal at the ready.
I've worked on this failing for years. Today my problem isn't so much laziness as a home under constant remodeling. My washer and dryer are located in the dining room (visible to the front door). This will probably be remedied this week, if I finish a promised chore to prepare the new laundry area so my husband and son can move them for me.
I have a wonderful book I bought in 1994 called, "A Christian Woman's Guide to Hospitality" by Quin Sherrer and Laura Watson. It is the best I've read on the subject and I pull it out frequently. It has the most wonderful reminders of our home's real purpose and tips for fulfilling that purpose.
From scripture we can see God's stance on hospitality. It is a condition of leadership fitness according to the apostle Paul.
Peter tells us that hospitality is a gift from God, not just to the person receiving the hospitality, but to the one giving it.
If our hearts are full of hospitality, we have the opportunity of doing the most amazing service for the Kingdom. And evidently our hospitality is to extend to everyone we encounter.
We have the opportunity every day of "practicing hospitality" (Romans 12:13b). God has placed us in our families for a wonderful purpose. If we are parents, we can glorify Him by teaching our children His grace and mercy. If we are children still living under our parents' authority, we can glorify Him by obeying and serving our parents.
One thing I like to do is to use the "good china" on days other than holidays or just for company. I've seen eyes light up at sitting to a table well set with candles and cloth napkins, even when the main dish is a casserole or meat loaf. Out of consideration for my husband and son (they tend to worry about breaking something), I don't use the china every day, but I try to make special meals weekly.
This kind of service to those closest to us prepares the way to be gracious to others. Even when we are far away from our extended family, God expects us to serve and love those outside our house. I love what He told us through the prophet Jeremiah. It was a source of comfort all those years we traveled because of the USAF. So often a military family just marks time until the next move. Here the Lord lets us know that we are placed deliberately wherever we are and we are to live as His children in every circumstance.
For the past six years we have lived in my husband's childhood home. I am working hard to develop the level of hospitality in this settled lifestyle that I was learning when we were always packing up and moving to new places. Opportunities to serve are different, more routine but nonetheless important. Proverbs 3:33b reminds us that the Lord "blesses the home of the righteous."
My prayer today is this:
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