“The image of preparing a table, or preparing a place, is a good overall image for hospitality. In genuine hospitality we work to make our entire existence a welcoming table, a place prepared for others to be at ease, to receive from us comfort and strength.”I just love that quote. We should each be working so that our entire existence is welcoming to others. I think a lot of times we define hospitality as having others over, particularly for a meal, but there is so much more to it than that!
I appreciated a recent post on this blog called “Hospitality on the Road,” in which Crista shared a wonderful suggestion from Karen Ehman’s book A Life That Says Welcome: “Start by making a list of the things you're good at, such as baking, crafts, writing letters, intercessory prayer, cleaning, organizing, or connecting with children. If you're not sure, ask your family and close friends for their input! Once you have a list of talents you can offer to those around you, make a list of ways you can use those talents to bless the people in your own sphere.”
There were some great ideas offered in both the post and the comments, but since this is a topic I’ve continued to think about, I asked (the other) Carrie if I could share some additional thoughts here.
* I enjoy baking and making food for others, and our church offers many ways to practice this form of hospitality outside the home. I am grateful for these opportunities, because as a mom who stays home with two young children, there are many needs and projects in the church for which I am not well-suited at this time.
Some of the ways I’ve partnered with our church to make others feel welcome or to meet a need:
* bringing a meal to families with a new baby (I’m on a rotating list of others who’ve indicated a willingness to serve in this way.)
*bringing homemade cookies for the youth group’s annual bake sale
*making chili for our church’s regular service at the soup kitchen
*making cakes for funeral receptions
*contributing to meals for college students
Surely your own church has similar ways to serve. You may not be able to go on a mission trip right now, or to give a large sum to that end, but I bet you can bake some cookies for others to buy at a fundraiser! Even though much of these efforts are “behind the scenes,” I think they still convey a sense of community and service that is a piece of how I define hospitality.
* An acquaintance recently e-mailed me that a student from her area would be coming to our local college as a freshman, and she asked if I would be willing to check on the student after move-in weekend. Right before I headed over to the girl’s dorm, I had the idea to make her a little care package. I grabbed a couple things I had on hand, put them in a cute gift bag, and wrote a welcome note. I told her I was giving her three things every college student needs: caffeine (a can of Coke), chocolate (some candy), and a quick meal for a busy day (that old college staple, ramen).
Is there someone around you (or far away) who could use a care package? My example illustrates that it can be simple and inexpensive, but I definitely think it’s the thought that counts! My mom set a wonderful example for my sister and me in this area. She often sends little gifts or notes or a copy of an article she thinks we’ll enjoy. What a nice idea, especially since we live so far apart!
* Another idea for having a welcoming existence is to introduce yourself to someone new next time you’re at the park. I waffle between being an introvert and an extrovert, and sometimes my mood alone can make me feel shy, so I know it’s not always easy to do this. But the other day, I saw a mom I didn’t recognize who was holding a newborn and chasing a toddler. I went over and introduced myself, and we had a nice chat in between the kids’ needs. =) This family moved to our small town this summer, so I told her all about MOPS and some of the programs offered by our local library. I really love sharing these resources with other moms, especially because I know how much I appreciate when others do the same.
I hope this has given you something to consider, and I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts. What do you do--what can you do--to be a welcoming presence to others?
Carrie blogs about life and stewardship at with all that I’ve been given. http://watibg.blogspot.com/
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