Layman, Aloma UMC, Winter Park, FL
The Gift Of Hospitality
By Delia Halverson
In thinking about reading this book one might expect a nice little presentation with lots of platitudes about how to be nice and friendly at church. That is not the case. This is an insightful little book with scriptural guidance on how to care for others enough to really make them feel cared for and loved. All of us like to think that we are in a friendly church but you will be awakened to the difference between acting friendly and showing real Christ-like caring.
First, the author points out that we are all different personalities and hospitality comes more easily to some than others. By using biblical models we can all learn to be aware of the small things and begin to think of what would make us feel more comfortable in any given situation. Church family relationships are opened up to show the many often ignored areas which can become avenues of gifting others with God's grace.
Welcoming is more than shaking hands and speaking. It is preparation for unchurched or pre-Christian folks who have no idea what our buildings, liturgies, songs and language are about. Add to this the practice of more conversation and purposeful listening with newcomers and others in our church family, and we can show that we are more interested in them than ourselves. And you know about body language!
Serving is hospitality at its best but we mustnít get so involved in the "doing" part that we forget the people served. Serving itself can be all act of worship if we place those served always in the position of being those whom God loves and we love. The parking lot, the kitchen, classrooms, the fellowship hall are places where we are called to extend ourselves in inviting, caring, loving...wanting for others what we would like to have for ourselves.
Hospitality also extends to the challenge of giving up gracefully those "traditions" and ways of doing things that no longer fit the world we live in. In the end we have to decide what is most important, our comfort and ease or reaching people who need to know Christ. This author will not let us avoid the singular focus of the Great Commission Christ gave us.
A potent aside is a liturgy of thankfulness for our driver's licenses and cars. I am hopeful that I can cut back my aggressiveness and wish for other drivers that they should get there first, find a space to get in, be very safe and not have to deal with any unkindness on my part.
Bottom line, this neat little book is about loving your neighbor as yourself and not getting into a debate with Jesus about who your neighbor is.