Exploring the practice of hospitality and cultivating a welcoming spirit is the topic for September’s Tending the Holy Thursdays.
Each month on my Thursday posts, I pick one theme (or person of faith) to explore deeper. In September I am venturing into a faith practice that to be honest, I am lousy with. I fail terribly with hospitality. The very thought of this discipline strikes terror in my introvert heart. But I hear God’s invitation to cultivate a more welcoming spirit, so want to explore this topic. Want to come along with me?
This week I plan to introduce ideas about hospitality. Next week will be the tips and how to’s, especially for the shy and introverted. The third week I will share some quotes and resources, followed on the fourth week a summary of lessons learned and how to apply this practice to our daily living.
Like usual I wrote a free download to accompany this study, titled “15 Thought-Provoking Definitions of Hospitality.” You can get this free by clicking on the button at the end of the post. It is my hope and prayer that this series and the tip sheet will enhance your walk with God.
Be sure to sign up to get Healthy Spirituality in your inbox so you don’t miss any of the weeks (I promise I never over send stuff to you). And invite your friends to this blog and share on social media. I sure do appreciate the support in spreading God’s word.
When God gathered all the ingredients together to create the recipe that he used to shape my soul, I think know he forgot something. Hospitality.
I don’t have a speck, a dash, or even a tiny smidgen of the stuff.
I envy those extroverts who love to entertain, open their doors to others, and engage in all the small talk at parties and workshops. Me? I ‘d rather be by myself in my little corner of the world where everything is organized, predictable, and quiet.
But lately I have been seeing the gift of hospitality in a new light. I am learning to see this practice as more than just cooking, cleaning, and entertaining.
Hospitality is a mindset of generosity and creates an environment where a person feels accepted, wanted, and loved. It is unselfishly serving others in a warm and friendly manner.
My friend Dee told me she loves hospitality because it gives her delight to anticipate the needs of others before they even realize it. She related it to being a good waitress and filling up the water glass before it was empty or providing extra napkins. Then she added. “It’s how God treats us.”
“Whoever practices hospitality entertains God Himself.”
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Cultivating a Welcoming Spirit
Hospitality is so much more than entertaining. Our faith history holds many stories of how a welcoming spirit reflects God’s presence.
Abraham and Sarah invited strangers into their homes, not knowing they were angels (Geneis 18). Jesus reminds us in Luke 13 to “welcome the “poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” to our tables.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Romans 15: 7
Hospitality offers blessings both to the recipient as well as the one who gives. Hospitality is an intentional practice that often doesn’t come easy and may be hard work or something that disrupts our already overburden and busy schedules.
I like the word cultivate – it implies a practice that can grow, be nourished and learned by daily faithfulness. A welcoming spirit serves others through God’s love, God’s eyes and God’s heart. I may have difficulty on my own being hospitality, but with God, I can serve others in a welcoming way.
“In a fast food culture, a wise Benedictine monk observes, ‘you have to remind yourself that some things cannon be done quickly. Hospitality takes time.’”
Hospitality not only invites the stranger into our lives but also is welcoming to those who are already in our lives. Having a right approach to how we treat one another, and treating others as Christ, is key to creating a healthy sense of hospitality.
I have always liked Henri Nouwen’s definition of Hospitality:
Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.
We cultivate this welcoming spirit by opening the space in our hearts and our lives to invite others in, to walk/companion others, to care for others. Welcoming requires paying attention and being present. This I can learn and practice intentionally.
Growing an open, more inviting spirit helps me remember that whoever God places right before me is there for a purpose.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
Philo of Alexandria
If you goggle “hospitality” you find many references to the food and hotel industry. But here on Healthy Spirituality, we are exploring hospitality that arises from a welcoming spirit and through God’s love. This is the first faith practice I have explored here that is more of a weakness than a strength for me. I am interested to learn as much from you as we share this journey together as I discovered through my writings here.
Don’t forget the free download that accompanies this study, titled “15 Thought-Provoking Definitions of Hospitality.” In additional to the definitions listed there, you will find blank spaces to journal your thoughts after each quote and a place to write down more meanings to this word. You can get this free by clicking on the button below.
Hi Jean! I think my own gift of hospitality waxes and wanes. I like to have people over, and to spend time with friends and family. But so often, I only think in retrospect of what I could have done to be more welcoming. It takes thought, it takes being intentional. I need to work on that!
Jean Wise says
you know, Ceil, you mentioned that hospitality may wax and wanes is interesting. I know different seasons of life affects it but couldn’t different moods, relationships also? Maybe it is a more fluid gift? That is one reason I like the concept of cultivating a welcoming spirit more than “just” hospitality. Yes it does take time and intentional and time to learn too. I really do need to work on this too.
Nancy Ruegg says
In years past, Steve and I entertained in our home a good deal, including a weekly Bible study group for about ten years. To be honest, we’ve done very little (except with family) since retiring to a new city two years ago. We’re attending church with our older son and his family — mostly younger couples — in a church started just six-years ago. As the token “senior” couple, we hope to make other older folks welcome when they visit. Your exploration of hospitality may help me see how we can minister that gift in ways I hadn’t thought of before!
Jean Wise says
That is an interesting insight about how it has changed for you since retirement. When I tell people I am in introvert, many don’t believe it since my position at the health department was so visible – I had to be outgoing for that job. Perhaps why it tired me so much. I love getting a peek into your church life. We attend a small rural church but one of its strengths is its diversity in ages. I am being stretch reading about hospitality but learning so much!! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Blessings!
Martha Orlando says
Danny and I are both introverts, so we rarely entertain, except for family gatherings. I had heard, though, that hospitality is not limited to entertaining, as you also explained above. We can be hospitable to others even when we’re out and about by just being kind and welcoming. Looking forward to this exploration with you, Jean! Blessings!
Jean Wise says
I can handle one on one and small groups but a large group – YIKES!/ What I am learning is that hospitality is so much more than entertaining – been a freeing thought for me. I am learning much writing this series. Hope your weekend is going well.
Martha Orlando says
It is, Jean, and ironically, we are entertaining family tomorrow. Wonderful to get great-grandmother with her great-grandchildren, children and grandchildren. That’s the kind of hospitality that is right up my alley! Blessings for a peaceful weekend!
Jean Wise says
Get that camera ready! what a keepsake and blessed day you have in front of you! wow. Enjoy every moment
Martha Orlando says
It’s ready! 🙂