Abraham entertaining angels “unaware” was one of my favorite Bible stories as a child. The idea of being hospitable and accidentally entertaining angels, captured my imagination. Growing up, I can barely remember a meal when just our immediate family was dining at the table. It seemed we had a constant stream of people eating with us and even spending the night.
Modern society has almost killed hospitality. For a variety of reasons, it seems the only time people are in our homes is if we are throwing some sort of party or event. If you are introverted or a nervous hostess, formal events can seem so overwhelming, you probably never have people in your home at all.
Interestingly, the Bible mentions hospitality as an important godly virtue more than once. Partially because in that time, being a stranger in a strange place didn’t give you many options for a meal, lodging and safety at the same time. I think there was even more to the concept though, than just helping travelers.
You see, when we have people in our homes, they begin to become part of our family. Think about it. Has there been a home you have visited frequently? After awhile don’t you know where the glasses are kept? I even have friends who let me just walk into their house without knocking (within reason!). These are also the people we may feel very comfortable confiding our problems to or asking for their advice. What a better way to serve others and share our faith in a relaxed comfortable atmosphere, than to open our homes to them?
The only way to break the “inhospitable” cycle is to begin training our children how to have open, welcoming homes. Here are a few very simple things you can do right now to begin teaching your children how to make a huge difference in the lives of others.
- Make your house a hospitality zone. All visitors are welcomed and encouraged, with only minor exceptions for family privacy. If you hear someone is visiting, needs a place to stay or even see neighbors in the yard – invite them to your home.
- Keep one room and one bathroom of your house relatively clean at all times. Visitors are not granted house tours, unless you enjoy that sort of thing. Most houses have a living room which is rarely used and stays “cleanish”. Lead all visitors to the “clean” room. If you have a half bath, it is your ideal visitor bathroom.
- Have a hospitality kit in your kitchen at all times. I keep a tin of flavored tea bags, a pitcher of iced tea and one or two cans of soda in my house at all times (we don’t normally drink soda). I also have at least one box of Girl Scout cookies or bag of homemade cookies in my freezer. If you prefer savory, make it cheese and crackers. We usually also have a box of spaghetti noodles, whatever sauce I can whip up quickly and some frozen rolls. You are now completely set for drop in guests at any time and even unexpected dinner quests. Remember, the food doesn’t have to be fancy – the company is what people really treasure.
- If you have room for overnight guests, keep a clean set of sheets and towels in your linen closet. Guests don’t mind grabbing towels or helping make beds. At least you know you will have clean linens ready when you need them.
If you have not been entertaining regularly, you will need to be intentional for awhile. Commit to having company once a month at first. Start small by asking a neighbor to join you for hot tea when you see her at the mail box on a cold day. Have your children join the two of you as everyone becomes better acquainted. Invite your child’s Sunday School teacher over for a casual lunch or dinner. Encourage your children to invite their friends over after school.
As time goes on, push your family a little harder. Try having weekly guests. Encourage your children to invite friends and their parents over for dessert one night. Nicer weather means you don’t even have to clean your house! Try serving lemonade on the deck or porch or eating ice cream treats in the yard.
Begin using hospitality to build relationships with others. See how those relationships provide your family with opportunities to serve others and share your faith. Who knows whom your family may entertain some day!