Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Say Welcome!

This last week I enjoyed a sweet visit from my parents. My folks arrived like they usually do, with all kinds of food, yard sale and clearance items. Late one night, when JoHanna and I were putting away some of the pantry items that tumbled out of thir trunk, we laughed over their generous natures. We wondered if they think we don't have potatoes in Tennessee, or apples, or honey, or diet coke. :) My parents take their hospitality on the road!

As I've been reconsidering what it means to be hospitable, I've enjoyed a book by Karen Ehman called "A Life That Says Welcome." Karen shares the word HOSPITALITY comes from a Greek word philoxenia that means "the love of strangers." It's often paired with the word phileo meaning "love," describing "tender affection from one person to another; brotherly or sisterly love." It seems that we prepare to love strangers by practicing "family kind" of love, right in our own homes and families. Sometimes it's easier to be on our courteous behavior with people who don't see us up close and personal, at our low moments, but if we can't be hospitable at home, it will be impossible to truly express philoxenia.

1 Peter 4:9 tells us to give hospitality without any complaining. What does that look like?

  • In practice, it means that when the a neighbor comes to our door, like he did on Friday, we invite him to sit down on the porch and visit ... even if we are in relaxing mode and "let our hair down" garb. We exchange names and numbers, telling him we'd like to get to know him better ... and mean it.
  • It means when that man stopped us in the cereal aisle today and shared his life story and hopes for the future (yes, he really did ...) that we listen and consider it a divine appointment. (Ok, as we left, the kids said, "What was that all about?" :) )
  • When the cashier checks me out rudely like she did today, I don't just look for "Was your cashier friendly today?" on the paypad, so that I can check off, "Not a chance!" (the thought crossed my mind) Instead, I let the Jesus rise up in me and talk to her about ... hmmmm, she was a tough one ... the peaches! And tell her to have a nice day.

Hospitality at home and "out" is not always easy. Karen points out in her book that God tells us in Romans 12:13 to "practice hospitality." Practice means to work at it, and this quality is so vital to a follower of Jesus that deacons and leaders are expected to be characterized by this philoxenia (1 Tim. 3:2 and Titus 1:8) Wow. God's really serious about this.

How does it look in your life? Arriving with a bag of potatoes? (:) Only try that with your daughter...) Chatting with a lonely person in the grocery store? Waving to a passing neighbor? God help His daughters, His people, to spread philoxenia and phileo wherever we go!

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