In writing “Pastor’s Heart”, I always begin with prayerful thought about what is actually on my “heart” related to Calvary Baptist Church. For a couple of weeks, I have been burdened to be more hospitable. Julie and I had some CBC folks over for meals when we first arrived, but in the bustle of the year, other commitments crowded that out. Ideally, we would like to get together with a family, couple, or whoever from church, at our house, at least once every other week. We envision this, we talk about it, plan for it…but it doesn’t always happen. So, on my heart is a burden to remedy that.
Showing hospitality is a clear command to Christians, and a clear expression of Christ-like love. All Christians are commanded to extend hospitality to one another, and in the right way. Consider the following: Romans 12:10-13 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord…13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Or, 1 Peter 4:8-9 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. I love Paul’s emphasis on doing so with diligence and fervency, and Peter’s caution, “…without grumbling.” Furthermore, being hospitable should be a character quality of elders in the church, growing from a general love for God’s people (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). The original term used is a hybrid word that literally means “lover of strangers.” It is a family or friendship kind of love expressed to someone not yet in your relational circle. In this sense, hospitality actively extends that circle. To treat a “stranger” this way is the extension of hospitality.
In the Ancient Near East and into New Testament times, hospitality was such a prized virtue, partially because of the culture and climate. A person’s life could literally be at stake if they were traveling away from home and took a wrong turn. Stuck in the desert without resources, stuck at night without protection – whatever the case – travelling strangers were more vulnerable. To extend hospitality was a “God-send” and could preserve life. This ethic is in the backdrop of Abraham’s “love to strangers” in Genesis 18:1-8 and the Samaritan’s in Luke 10:33-34.
Our culture has fallen on hard times with the ethic of hospitality; and I think it may be worse in New England (admittedly CT is far worse than the northern states). Indeed, our culture has fallen on hard times in just courteous conversation. But what an opportunity, then, for Christians to be salt and light in this area! So, consider our unique calling to hospitality. It is a timeless, simple and clear extension of God’s love.
Ask yourself the following: 1) Who would I like to share my home and a meal with, and when? 2) What would make them feel most welcome and comfortable to enjoy the visit? 3) Think of travelling experiences and your own experiences in different homes. What did you enjoy most? What was most welcoming? What made you feel that you were being cared for by your hosts? And then, 4) What preparations can I make to use my home for God’s work in this way? 5) When they come, how can I foster good conversation with thoughtful questions? What would I like to learn about my guest? What would I like them to know about me?
Let me be the first to step in and say that Julie and I would love to share our home and a meal with each and every person in the church. But…not all at once. We’ll reach out, or you can let us know if you’d like to come by and we’ll get it on the calendar.
Thanks so much! See you Sunday,