by MEREDITH DONKIN
We need to chat girlfriend to girlfriend. As we head into this series about hospitality, I want you to try to put aside all previous notions of the ideal Christian woman or the much lauded “Proverbs 31 woman”.. This series is not aimed at burdening you with a prescriptive ideal of what hospitality should look like in your life and add to your to-do list. Instead, I want you to allow your soul to breathe for a moment and drink in some fresh Biblical truth. How about we take a collective pause and deeply reflect upon the true meaning of hospitality before the panic-inducing season of Thanksgiving (for our US friends), Christmas and New Year is upon us.
There is simply no better place to start than with the living Word:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
3 John 1:8
We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
1 Timothy 5:10
And is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
1 Peter 4:9
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
But what is intended by the word “hospitality”?
Hospitality in the ancient world focused on the alien or stranger in need. The plight of aliens was desperate. They lacked membership in the community, be it tribe, city-state, or nation. As an alienated person, the traveler often needed immediate food and lodging. Widows, orphans, the poor, or sojourners from other lands lacked the familial or community status that provided a landed inheritance, the means of making a living, and protection. In the ancient world the practice of hospitality meant graciously receiving an alienated person into one’s land, home, or community and providing directly for that person’s needs. – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Farmers would deliberately leave the corners of their fields unharvested, so that those in need could take food directly from the field to sustain them in their travels. This was a long established tradition that the community embraced without question.
It’s a powerful example of community looking out for those in need. Our modern age is struggling with community or the lackthereof. Social isolation and loneliness is epidemic and is fast becoming the next big public health issue
. Maybe what hospitality looks like today is not a field of unharvested wheat, but instead, an outstretched hand offering friendship.
We’ll explore this more thoroughly in coming weeks, but how about today we just take small steps. The heart of hospitality is just about creating space. Put on some worship music today, have a chat to God, ask Him for guidance.
He will lead you.
This song is a favourite of mine for gentle reflection…
Live Brave, Sister!