Hospitality for the Holidays
After taking a Spiritual Gifts analysis, it was revealed to me that one of my gifts was hospitality. I was elated to realize that God would give me a gift that I already enjoyed so much! A gift isn't meant to be kept in tissue paper in a box and left in the closet or trunk for safe keeping. Hospitality is a gift that grows in importance and blessings as it is used. The gift of ourselves is a good thing expressed in the hospitality we extend. Perhaps Martha Stewart's success can be attributed to the fact that she gives a little extra in everything she does, which is the heart of genuine hospitality. When we practice hospitality, we practice grace.
During our years in the pastorate, it seemed that we were hosting someone in our home nearly every other weekend as those guests came to minister to the church. True, hosting on that level requires a lot of organization. Juggling a full-time job, family, and church obligations meant that there were few spare minutes. My freezer had to be well-stocked at all times! Nevertheless, our family reaped the benefits and the blessings continue to be immeasurable. Our adult daughter has now discovered that one of her spiritual gifts is also hospitality. During the pastorate, our children met many General Conference pastors, missionaries, and Christian musicians because these people sat at our table and shared our family times. When I am hosting individuals in our home, it makes the effort much lighter and more rewarding to understand that the gift of hospitality is serving the Lord.
My paths of service more recently have been redirected from that of the pastorate role. I Corinthians 12:5 assures that there are different types of service, there are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. Even now, I find great fulfillment in hosting different types of visitors in our home whether they be General Conference folk, visitors from other countries, or ladies visiting Findlay to attend the March Retreat.
God has always blessed us with a comfortable home and it is our desire to share it with others. If your home is good enough for your family, then it's very acceptable to others also. After all, happiness adds and multiplies as we divide it with others. Emerson has given a golden thought: “Happy is the house that shelters a friend.”
Allow me to share a few tips that have been helpful to me and may calm your fears of hosting someone in your home:
Remember, this is a service to the Lord!
Include your guests in your family activities. We took our guests to our teenagers' band contests, parades, and ballgames. This made our kids feel appreciated and the visitors were sometimes starved for some “family” time.
Make your guests feel very special:
Have fresh towels for them daily
Supply a dish of mints in their room—they may have been in meetings all day and would appreciate them.
A few pieces of fresh fruit may be appreciated so they can have a private snack whenever they like.
Always supply a few toiletries
A small arrangement of garden flowers in a guest's room will make them feel welcome.
4. Put your “Best Food Forward”
5. Every occasion is different. A picnic-type meal may be very appropriate. Paper plates may be just perfect, but then dress up the setting with colored napkins and tablecloth fitting to the occasion or season. Even the simplest menu can be made very special by adding extra little touches. It's like buying a gift on sale and wrapping it up beautifully so it looks exquisite! There are other occasions when you'll want to use pretty dishes. Use your best. What good is that beautiful gift if it's left in the box...or in the case...or left in the china cabinet. Use it and enjoy it. Your guests will think they must be very special for you to use your finest for them.
Don't panic over food preparation. Use menus that you feel confident preparing. I keep a card file noting guests' names, dates, menu served, their allergies, likes or dislikes, regular or decaf coffee, etc. This has been helpful through the years when I have returning guests or when I just don't know what to fix. My freezer is a must! I usually have a supply of cookies, cakes, and a casserole of two in the freezer for quick use. I'd give up my microwave before my freezer!
6. Be hospitable away from home too:
Take a plate of cookies or a loaf of quick bread to a new neighbor and invite them to church. I like to take cookies to each of our neighbors at Christmas time or whenever we meet across the fence. As our guests leave to return to their regular routine, we usually end with prayer and a hug. Those folks are no longer considered guests---they've become friends!
Whatsoever you do, do it all to the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31
Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. Romans 15: 17
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:9-11
Open your homes to serve others. Hospitality is sharing your home and yourself and being a servant to your family and guests.
Sally Green has been in the Churches of God since before birth!She grew up in the Collamer Church of God in South Whitley, Indiana, met her husband Dave at Summer Seminar in 1963 on the Findlay College campus, and graduated from Findlay College with a degree in elementary education. They have served the Lord at the Leadwood Church of God and Columbia City First Church of God and are now members of the College First Church of God in Findlay.Sally and Dave have been married for 56 years and have a daughter and son and 4 grandchildren.Serving in several different capacities at the General Conference level for 18 years in the WCSC/CGWM continues to be a highlight of her car