A week or so ago I was blessed to have the oportunity to offer hospitality to a long time friend of mine that I had met over the internet. In truth we had never even met in real life yet, but after finishing a four year tour in the navy, he and his father would pass through our town (well, with a small detour)on their way home. Since we had started out on different continents when we met, and he served on a different continent after I had moved here, I was not about to let the chance pass to actually meeting someone in person that I had been talking to for well... six years.
I was worried though. The guestroom is not much more than a bed. The sheets have seen my husband through college and one person would need to sleep on an air matrass. Joseph will mess up a cleaned house in ten seconds flat and how would he behave at the dinner table?
In the end though, hospitality is not much more than opening your heart and your home for people. I remember in the year 2000 we celebrated New Years in our new house in Antwerp, which was still so much of a building warf that plastic tarps separated the living room and kitchen as the only really usable parts of the house. We celebrated new years on boards put over sawhorses that were normally in use in the actual building process of the home, with a paper table cloth over it. We listened to the countdown on a tiny battery operated radio. And it was one of the best New Years celebrations I have ever had. Or that my aunt and nephews had over had because it marked a new beginning and it was a grand adventure.
All I did for my guests was open my door, make a big pot of chilli, offered clean sheets and towels, and make them feel as welcome as I could. We sat around the table sharing stories while we ate. After dinner and after Joseph had gone to bed, we played a game of cards. In the morning I made a quick hot breakfast and then we parted ways. It was simple. And yet it refreshed me in a way I can hardly describe. I need to overcome my hesitance about inviting people. I need to stop seeing Joseph as a hindrance to hospitality while almost everybody is absolutely fine with having a todler aorund and really enjoys his company. I need to stop worry about the house. If I keep it mostly clean, what does it matter if someone just upended his blocks or smeared cherries over the todler table? These things are part of my life and in offering hospitality, I try and share that life. It is not about trying to impress people, that is where the sin of pride comes in. A sin that tries and prevents us to do what God wants us to do. Come together and share a meal while sharing His love.