“Oh dear…ahhhh…um…very sorry…but….argh!…can you just hold on a minute?”
In high-school, I remember taking some twisted pleasure in watching my father navigate the newfangled technology that was call-waiting.
If dad was on the phone, and another call beeped in, he would get a rash from the unnecessary rudeness of it all. He considered the alert of an incoming call to be a personal affront. “I’m so sorry…” he would fluster into the phone, all huffy and bothered, “…but someone else is trying to break into our conversation.”
Now we know that the call-waiting invention was just the tip of the iceberg. Since then, we’ve experienced a landslide of blips and bells, vibrations and whistles, guaranteed to interrupt any face-to-face conversation that lasts longer than seven seconds.
My father – bless him – has weathered the new world remarkably well (me, not so much). He’s done so by holding steady in his belief that when you are with people, you must really be with them. People love him for that. I love him for that.
Can this be said of us, I wonder?
Today, will all the people who share our time and space feel welcome there? Will they feel seen and heard? Or, will they feel like the unwanted interruption, breaking in on something more important to us?
Hospitality is a beautiful mark of all who would call themselves children of God. It’s not a special gift some of us own, and others don’t. The grace of hospitality doesn’t depend on our personality, circumstances, or even how we are feeling: it only hopes to give as much consideration to the person before us, as we do to ourselves.
We might very well be an introvert, or live in a tiny studio apartment, or be tired. We might have little children that we home school, or work exceptionally long and demanding hours as a single parent. Even so, a hospitable and generous spirit is how our world will know that they matter.
Christian hospitality is a way of seeing all the people – being with them – so that they feel welcomed in. This includes the stranger, the quirky neighbor, the husband, the liberal, the rich, the skeptic, the child, the sullen, the roommate, and the enemy.
How do we receive all the people?
God has shown us great mercy, but he’s also shown us stunning friendship. Not only have we been dramatically forgiven and rescued, but we’ve been warmly welcomed in as beloved sons and daughters. We’ve been invited into an extravagant feast in the home of the King – an invitation we certainly didn’t earn, and absolutely don’t deserve.
The warmth of our welcome to all the people is a testimony to how well we understand God’s welcome to us.
One of my favorite authors and pastors, Eugene Peterson, writes about his desire to be ever more leisurely with people. I love him for this, because he understands that even as a prolific author, pastor, thinker, and leader, being leisurely with people is the way to love them – even half as much – as we love ourselves.
The door to real life is not shut to us, but has been thrown open wide to those who believe.
Jesus broke into time and space for all the people he loves.
By the mercies of God then, let’s be imitators – living sacrifices – of this kind of hospitality.
Peace to you, as you enjoy, and extend, God’s friendship to all the people in your path today.