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Learning To Welcome Again

Armed with new recipes and fancy dishes, a whirlwind of tidying the house ensues to prepare for company.

Growing up, we didn’t have company over a lot, and I was particularly averse to it because of the tizzy our house became in the preparations. The pressure high for everything to look “just right,” whether was the food, or cleanliness. These expectations weren’t helpful in the hospitable endeavors of my own home. The work and effort seemed too much.

Then, during our time in Africa, culture forced my hand. African hospitality is spontaneous and generous. At any given time, there could be visitors at my door, whether it was neighbors stopping by, new believers for discipleship, or team gatherings, my home became a place of convergence, and I learned that people and relationships were more important than having all the things ‘perfect.’

After a year in varying of forms of lockdown, we’ve not had opportunities to host people. Public health guidelines now allow for one designated household to enter your home, not leaving much room in the way of visiting.

While we’ve become increasingly isolated, not of our own choice, it’s helped us to see what we are missing. The blessing of sharing a meal, the joy of mutual encouragement, and learning to interact with thoughts and ideas of different perspectives.

If we’ve needed an encouragement toward hospitality, this is a hard season for it, given the pandemic restrictions, but I believe that the inspiration can help propel us once again to anticipate an opening of our homes, and growing a heart to welcome those around us.

In “Extraordinary Hospitality (For Ordinary People): 7 Ways to Welcome Like Jesus,Carolyn Lacey encourages us to delight in God’s welcome and extend it to others. She shares with us how hospitality doesn’t have to be complicated, overwhelming, and overbearing. It doesn’t require lots of money, or perfection. Simple acts of kindness and compassion, communicate to others that they matter, we just need to be on the lookout for opportunities.

“The goal of hospitality is to reflect God’s welcome, and we can all do that, regardless of our bank balance or living situation”

In a world where we find ourselves crafting our image with care, we may hesitate to extend an invitation to have people in our home, afraid of what they will see or how they will measure us. These fears, when we are honest, are linked to our pride. She writes, “pride hinders our hospitality in two ways. On one hand it keeps us from reaching out to the people most in need of our welcome because we think that we are somehow above them. On the other hand, it inhibits us from welcoming others because we worry about what people may think of us.”

Given an honest assessment of what holds us back from generosity, compassion and serving, leads us to humility, and confession of our pride and selfishness, to turn our hearts toward God’s love and care for others. As we learn to fix our eyes not on ourselves, but on others, we will begin to see opportunities for blessing and encouragement, and enter into them with gratitude.

“Your words and actions will either point people towards God or away from him.”

She invites us to practice identifying some needs of our church families. To look for those who are grieving, lonely or suffering? For those struggling with anxiety or depression? To prayerfully consider how we can provide encouragement and welcome to hurting hearts.

It’s a good word for us. Though we are limited in what we can do during these pandemic times, we can still practice cultivating hearts of compassion and service. If hospitality is daunting or overwhelming, or you need some encouragement, this is a 5 star read!

*A big thanks to the Good Book Company for the complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to post an honest review!

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