Hospitality as a Spiritual Discipline

 

Hosting guests has always been a priority in our family; now it dovetails as a priority in our work. It would be easy enough to vacuum and make beds in our guest room, or the Guest (Big) House at Wesley Gardens. But could there be more to genuine “hospitality”?

 
Little Cottage porch

Little Cottage porch

 

Guests bring an extra energy to a home. They bring new perspectives on how to chop an onion, or choose a Presidential candidate. They can also bring exhaustion, more work, and more temptation to “entertain”.

en-ter-tain (v) 1. to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably; divert; amuse.

For many of us, guests awaken our drive to entertain, and too often rob us of truly being with and participating in the lives our guests.

Entertaining isn't all bad, but it's also a fragile good. Generally speaking, guests are a gift to be hosted, not a short-lived presence to be entertained. We enjoy offering a clean house, unique centerpiece and tasty food, but the problem arises when we elevate our guest’s experience, over our guest. Simplicity and minimalism are treasures in the chest of human longing. Actual presence with another human being is a rare gem and marked diversion. Hospitality, that is.

hos-pi-tal-i-ty (n): the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

Hospitality is something Christians are asked to show one another without grumbling, thereby contributing to one anothers needs (1 Peter 4:9 & Romans 12:13).

Whereas entertaining asks the aesthetics of our homes to rule over the true state of who we are, hospitality bids the true state of who we are to open the door of our homes. It insists on vulnerability. At times our offering will feel menial, burnt, or still dirty in the sink. At times we'll have to choose relational intimacy over the possibility of being seen in the truth of our messy homes, or selves. We’ll have to let go of how polished, or “Pinterest’y” our space is, remembering simple expressions like lighting a candle, or placing a jar of wildflowers, go farther than we think.

We want folks who stay at Wesley Gardens to feel cared for deeply, not entertained, as our culture knows it. In light of that, here are some questions we’ve begun asking ourselves:

· What is it I'm striving to accomplish when I invite guests into our home?

· Do duties and expectations trump attempts to love well the guest in our midst?

· Am I aiming to provide a perfect experience, or a real experience?

· Am I more concerned with guests’ experience of me, or my appearance to them, than I am of offering a safe, genuine place, expressive of Home?

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Hebrews 13:2 +

-Abbie