To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Hospitalty’ Category

Meeting People At Home

One of the key means by which Christians are called to build up relationships with one another is through hospitality. Very often the best way, but not the only way, of achieving this is by welcoming people into our homes.

I wrote yesterday about my perception of the way the government’s policy in response to the coronavirus outbreak has been working out. I specifically contextualised this in the context of churches. Please read that here. In that piece I emphasised the difference between “shoulds” and “musts”. The understanding of these terms also has a bearing upon how we can exercise hospitality now.

A consulting of the relevant document about meeting with people from other households, which is here, places the statement about who and how we can meet people in the “should” category. This means that it is not a matter of law and mandatory, but rather strongly advised. I wrote about the implications of the “must” and “should” terms yesterday (see here). Accordingly, it may be unwise to have more than one household to your home, but not illegal.

In all this we need to remember the essential thrust of government policy is to “stay alert” so as to “stop the spread”.

One further issue we need to thoughtful of is the impression that we are giving to our neighbours. We need to consider that our neighbours may have no awareness of the nuance between “musts” and “shoulds”. If our neighbours are continually seeing different people going in and out of our homes they may be alarmed at the way we are conducting ourselves. We may feel we are exercising due caution and wisdom. However, we need to be thoughtful about the impact upon our witness before them.

Let us not forget though in all this that we are called into a community of faith as believers. We need each other and proper social interaction is a means of facilitating this. We are called to exercise hospitality.

We go forward seeking to be wise and honour the Lord at this difficult and confusing time.

Italy (2)

Here are a miscellany of observations from our time in Italy:

  • We flew out with Ryan Air and manged to avoid spending any extra money on additional stuff. Meant travelling light and having small bags.
  • It is always a privilege to stay in a home in a foreign country. So rather than being a tourist viewing from the outside, you actually get inside the culture. As a result you see and experience so much. What a privilege this is.
  • it was great to be with the Catchpole family and their various guests who were coming and going from their home. Their welcome and hospitality was so beautiful, Their open home was a challenge to our tendency to make our homes a fortress.
  • We drove a bit through Alec kindly loaning his car. This was generally OK, but driving on the right-hand side does present its challenges on account the necessary re-adjustments that have to be made. The traffic of Naples on Monday evening was pretty dreadful and an experience all of itself.
  • We had plenty of pizza which is only to be expected in Italy I suppose. Generally it was really good quality.
  • It was great that May Lin got on so well with Patrizia and that Zech was able to play stuff with their daughter, Joy.
  • The cheek-to-cheek greeting for both men and women was somewhat culturally different for us, but it seemed courteous to participate in the accepted cultural mores.
  • Great to be able to talk about Scripture and the Lord’s work and ways with Alec and Patrizia.
  • Partizia is doing a great work in the prison in Pozzuolli with the ladies incarcerated there.
  • Seeing the warmth of relationship between Alec and his children was warming and challenging. His willingness to spend time with Joy and help her with her studies was admirable. I was challenged about how much time I invest in my children; Alec certainly set a great example.
  • The humour seems to have a certain brutality about it. If you know someone rally well it is reasonable to greet them by pointing out how ugly they are for example.
  • How blessed it is to see them still zealous in serving the Lord.

The Welcome.

The welcome given to people when they visit our churches is very important. In my recent visits to several churches I have generally been very impressed by the welcome received upon arrival. One church where you needed to sign in, because of the nature of the venue, was a bit confusing and could have been clearer. However, generally at all the churches I felt there was warmth and acceptance in the welcome I received.

However, the conduct after that was not so impressive. Both before services and after services I was left for long periods without anyone speaking with me. It seems as though when you got away from the properly designated welcome team then things fell apart. The danger is that when you have a specifically designated welcome team, then the rest of the congregation feel that the welcome as dealt with and they can go and speak to their mates.

After services, I purposely positioned myself on my own to see what happened at times. Sadly, I was sometimes on my own and passed by for too long I felt.

Larger churches seems particularly culpable here. Perhaps that is because there are so many people that you don’t know if someone is there for the first time or twentieth time. Notwithstanding that, I still feel it is good to go up to people you don’t know and give them a welcome. After all our message is the ultimate welcoming of strangers message. It is about a God who welcomes sinners in Christ. For us to fail to welcome strangers contradicts that.

I know some find the approaching of strangers easier than others. But most of us can say “Hello, good to see you.”

 

Welcoming People

I am thinking here of welcoming people to our homes and particularly when we have guests over for a meal or some time together. Now there can be no fixed formality about how we welcome people and what we do will depend upon our relationship with them and the context in which they are visiting. However, notwithstanding the flexibility involved I do wnat to offer some thoughts:

Informing your visitors, upon their arrival, that it is good to see them and to have them with you makes them at ease and aware that they are welcome in your home.

As a general rule, whenever guests arrive we must make it clear that they are welcome. To just carry on with what we are doing and give them a nod and a grunt seems to be impolite. As a parent it is good to get your children into the habit of coming from their rooms and activities to welcome people. They may return from whence they came after the welcome. But in doing this they have given some honour to your guests who are visiting. This would be similalry doen when your guests leave.

Mr Hinton, who i referred to here, used to have the unique way of using his handshake to pull you into his house when you visited. This was actually quite endearing and expressive of him welcoming you. He would also move you away from the house through his handshake when you left. I never thought that this was a “glad to get rid of you gesture”, but rather that he was sending you lovingly on your way.

This leads me to how we send people away. When your hosts send get you out of the door and immediately close the front door behind you always leaves me a bit dismayed. No ill-will may be meant by this. However, it does convey the “glad they are gone” impression. Accordingly, when people leave it is good to exchange wholesome words relating your pleasure in having them with you. You express this in a way without lying, of course. Then when you have seen them through the door you wait until they have walked away from your house or departed in their car. If they specifically say that you should go inside then that makes the matter different.

All in all it is good to show politeness and courtesy so as not to needlessly offend people.

The Danger Of Beautiful Meals.

In 1 Peter 4:9, all Christians are urged to Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. And when we offer hospitality we very often are offering a meal to our guests. It is a critical grace to be sharing with others in this way. Hospitality, at heart, is an act of love. And as love is about doing good to benefit others we want to provide them with good hospitality. That means we want them to have a good meal. To provide our guests with some scraps left over from earlier in the week shows disrespect.

There is an issue here, though, and that is the danger of providing meals which intimidate others. So there is someone in the church who is a fantastic cook. She / he produces superlative feasts whenever they have guests. Others see their outstanding culinary presentation and think “I can’t do that. However, I will do what I can because I want to provide hospitality for others.” Now that is fine.

The problem comes when it is concluded by the guest that “I can’t provide like this and therefore I am not fit to offer hospitality. If anyone comes to my house they will immediately think that my provisions are not very good and so I will not provide.” Through this means hospitality is stymied and the church loses out.

Now of course the latter person should never have thought the way they did, but there is this danger. Accordingly, the first person who has been blessed with great culinary skills needs to be careful not to be too elaborate. Such elaboration could cause problems for others.

Oh how subtle Satan is in getting in among God’s people. Let us then be diligent to seek to resist the devil.

So next time when you are offering hospitality stop and think about how many vegetables you provide and how many sweets. You are not in a competition to impress, but you are on a mission to show love through hospitality.

(Originally posted at Venabling on 10/09/2014)

Hospitality

We live in an individualistic age. This seems to be particularly apparent in the London area. Travelling on the Tube you are immediately aware how people, although close together, want to maintain their own personal space. However, as Christians, we are not called to individualism rather we are called to live out our faith “in community” together. One way which assists us in making this community experience a real experience is that of hospitality. Peter urges the dispersed Christians to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Pet. 4:9). Paul indicates in Romans 12:13 that we minister to the needs of each other, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. Hospitality is therefore an essential part of Christian living.

But what is hospitality? Literally the word, as used in the two afore-mentioned references, refers to the love of strangers. We are welcoming those who are normally outside our circle. So as families we can welcome people into our homes for a meal, a coffee or just some time to relax. The world is a hostile environment for spiritual people and many need “cities of refuge” to which they can resort in order to be refreshed. This is particularly so for those who live on their own. We should be looking out for those in need in the church and offering them hospitality. Gaius in 3 John 2-8 gives a great example of someone who is commended for his determination to welcome Christian strangers who are in need.

In welcoming people into our homes, we need to remember that this should be done with the right attitude. Hospitality can curiously become a cloak for selfishness. This happens when we invite those who are able to invite us back. Our LORD uses these words: Then Jesus said to his host, “when you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors, if you do they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).

The promise of blessing is also before us in Hebrews 13:2 where we are told that we may even entertain angels unaware by the giving of hospitality. This takes us back to Genesis 18:1-15 where Abraham and Sarah actually entertained the LORD Jesus Himself in His pre-incarnate state. As Christians we give because we love, not because we expect to receive back. The Lord graciously promises to bless if we give hospitality in the proper way, but we do not open our homes purely from the motive of getting that blessing.

As we think about who we invite we must remember that we should never be partial. Some Christians operate in a way so that they will only invite people whom they are friendly with. This is essentially selfish and can be divisive. We must remember that our God shows no partiality and so we must not show partiality. This becomes particularly heinous when we exclude people on the grounds of their jobs, their homes or perhaps worse of all their colour of skin. This should never be among the people of God.

You may feel that all this is well and good, but you are not able to give hospitality because you are too poor or because you do not have enough space in your home. In reply we might say that “where there is a will there is a way”. Remember, you do not have to provide a feast for your guests; the warm welcome and time together is more important. Solomon gives us some perspective when he says better is a dry crust with peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting with strife (Prov. 17:1). Perhaps if space is a problem you can take others out for a meal.

We must remember,as well, that we are not in a competition as to who can provide the most outstanding and elaborate hospitality. We are not to think about out-doing such-and-such a person because we provide a bigger range of puddings or whatever. Also, we should never act in such a way that others are intimidated as regards to their own offering of hospitality. This happens when others feel that they cannot cook as well as someone else in the church and therefore they do not open their homes to others. We should see to avoid this.

If we are the receivers of hospitality we should make sure that we receive such kindness in a godly way. Our LORD mentioned that we should be humble guests. He said: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, “Give this person your seat.” Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, “Friend move up to a better place. Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:8-11)

Not only though should we be humble, but we should also be thankful. When we have received from one another, in what ever way, it is good and right to be thankful. Paul enjoins thankfulness in Col. 3:15, In the context of building oneness among believers, when he says: and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

So hospitality is part of making sure there is a growing oneness among us. By opening our homes to one another we get to know one another. That is why an elder must be given to hospitality (see 1 Tim.3:2) because it is a key way in which he can get to know the people of the church.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter February 2011

The Danger of Beautiful Meals.

In 1 Peter 4:9, all Christians are urged to Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. And when we offer hospitality we very often are offering a meal to our guests. It is a critical grace to be sharing with others in this way. Hospitality, at heart, is an act of love. And as love is about doing good to benefit others we want to provide them with good hospitality. That means we want them to have a good meal. To provide our guests with some scraps left over from earlier in the week shows disrespect.

There is an issue here, though, and that is the danger of providing meals which intimidate others. So there is someone in the church who is a fantastic cook. She / he produces superlative feasts whenever they have guests. Others see their outstanding culinary presentation and think “I can’t do that. However, I will do what I can because I want to provide hospitality for others.” Now that is fine.

The problem comes when it is concluded by the guest that “I can’t provide like this and therefore I am not fit to offer hospitality. If anyone comes to my house they will immediately think that my provisions are not very good and so I will not provide.” Through this means hospitality is stymied and the church loses out.

Now of course the latter person should never have thought the way they did, but there is this danger. Accordingly, the first person who has been blessed with great culinary skills needs to be careful not to be too elaborate. Such elaboration could cause problems for others.

Oh how subtle Satan is in getting in among God’s people. Let us then be diligent to seek to resist the devil.

So next time when you are offering hospitality stop and think about how many vegetables you provide and how many sweets. You are not in a competition to impress, but you are on a mission to show love through hospitality.

 

 

 

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