On Sunday after our church service I was chatting with a new friend about holiday plans - she mentioned she was unsure of where she'd be celebrating Thanksgiving though she'd had several very sweet offers from older couples. I immediately and without reserve insisted she come celebrate with us at Ashley's house. A move that just two years ago my Emily Post southern upbringing would shutter to think about - what if she's the very guest that tips the scale of "comfortable" in their new home? You know, when everyone gets to the table at the same time and we realize there's only 12 chairs when we need 13?
But in the last three years of friendship I've learned so much (and been on the receiving end quite often) from Ashley and her husband Aaron's genuine hospitality. I've learned that their heart beats exactly for that thirteenth person - their home, no matter the size, could never be too small. That the people inside matter more than what the inside actually looks like. And somehow, no matter how many people show up, there's always leftovers to send home.
It's easy to compartmentalize hospitality into 4 or 5 relatively clean and tidy gatherings a year. But take a minute to redefine the word -- let go of your perfect pinterest board sprinkled with long tables in the middle of gorgeous wild flower fields or ideas of your house always being ready for a surprise visitor. The thing is, we're called to live a life of hospitality. That means that it's a daily occurrence. That means it's going to be messy - being hospitable means making room, in your mess, for someone else's mess. And that's where true community and friendship are formed -- in an honest, vulnerable and genuine setting. It means making room for people that might not have anything to give you in return. It means making room for interruptions -- your neighbor knocking right at you're chasing your toddler to bed. It means seeing people. Like really seeing them. It means seeing people as Christ sees them - created in the image of God and beautiful because of it. Worthy of your time and your energy and your means because of it.* Let's make room in our days, in our hearts and in our homes for those encounters this season.
*1 John 4:19 "We love because he first loved us."