Some chapters I loved; some chapters (I confess) bored me.
But together, they convicted me.
A Christian View of Hospitality: Expecting Surprises by Michele Hershberger was a roller-coaster. When she would overstress a point or delve too long into definitions or retell Bible stories that I know by heart, I wanted to quit reading.
But then I’d hit a chapter that would stop me cold. I needed this book. My hospitality quotient is as up and down as I felt the book was. I have seasons of open doors, and seasons where I feel I have no resources to offer.
So when Michele addressed my weak spots, I cringed at my lack of faith in the ever-giving God who lavishes us abundantly with everything we need—and everything we need to give. With the proper perspective, there is no lack with God.
I was intrigued especially by:
1. The “40-day experiment in hospitality”
A group of individuals committed to watching for and participating in opportunities to be hospitable for 40 days, and to journal about it. Michele includes many of their entries in the book, and big or small, they added value to her thoughts. The experiment is one I should consider myself, along with doing the book as a small group study (discussion questions are included in the back).
2. The host as guest
The author clearly showed through examples and scriptures that in being hospitable, the hosts receive gifts that the guests bring with them. It’s not as simple as “us helping them” when we welcome others. We need “them” as much as they need “us.” It shouldn’t be doing for them, but rather doing with them. And it’s not just a matter of semantics; it’s a different mindset.
So many times we only see hospitality as an act of service—something we give...In true hospitality, the roles always blend. Loving the stranger means allowing the stranger to minister to us, even though they are the guests.
EXPECT THE FOOD TO BURN
I admit I often dislike cooking because it takes so long to prepare a great meal, yet it is consumed so quickly. But Michele points out that when we see our meals as acts of worship, our attitude toward the work changes. It’s like a handwritten love letter or a homemade quilt—yes, they’re time-consuming and inefficient, but that itself speaks volumes about our feelings towards those we give them to.
Our hospitality and the work and preparation that go into it are offerings. Be extravagant. Place it on the altar and let it burn. What a sweet aroma.