Growing up, I experienced hospitality in a variety of ways. Before holidays, my family would stay at a relative's house, who was hosting the holiday dinner. We would play their games, watch their movies, eat their food, and sometimes sleep in their beds, but we would also be helping them to prepare for the next day's dinner.
My mother was also a prime example of hospitality. As college students helped with our middle and high school youth groups, she helped them. We would have students over for dinners (especially around the holidays for those who couldn't make it home). We would "adopt" a student for the year he/she would be in our life.
My sister extended hospitality as well. During thanksgiving break in her freshman year, my sister brought two international students into our lives, so they would have a family-like place to stay. After a mission trip to England, my sister was impacted by the willingness of families in England to practice hospitality and open their doors to strangers.
I learned the most about hospitality in Uruguay. A local pastor and wife had a house church. There house had a front room, their bedroom, a small sitting room, a bathroom, a room that led to the kitchen that doubled as their kids' bedrooms, a kitchen, and a backyard. During our mission trip, I saw their house (specifically the front room and kitchen) offered and transformed time and time again. The front room was where the church met, where leaders were trained to lead discussions on Courageous, where kid's club was held when our outdoor venue was rained out, where prayer meetings were held, where a ladies' tea was hosted, and where 22 of us (from the States and from Uruguay) ate our lunches, cooked in the pastor's wife's kitchen. The pastor's wife did not grudgingly admit us into our house and fiercely protect her boundaries. She welcomed us willingly and gracefully. Lunches were served on tablecloths, with decorative flowers and scriptural promises for us to remember. Anytime I approached her saying, "I have a question," "Si, Amor (yes, Love)" was her reply.
These influences have shaped how I view hospitality. I want to be able to open my house and welcome individuals inside. I am intrigued by the concept that people don't care how nice my house looks, but rather, are pleased to be invited in. Lucas (my dear hubby-kins) and I enjoy setting up invitations for company to come over for food, fun (games), and fellowship (games). Because, for us, opening our house is a way to tell a person, "you're worthwhile; please come in."
What are ways you have seen hospitality practiced? What are ways you practice hospitality?