Open homes build strong community

When did the lovely art of hospitality start to leave us? It dangles by a fraying thread, it seems. Even among Christ-followers, mandated to share both home and food, the hardened shears of too-much-business, and too-little-love have almost snipped it from among us.

The Preacher and I accepted an invitation to share a meal at the home of country friends. As our car charged like an eager steed over arrow-straight prairie roads, we became escapees to gentler times. Busy town life faded behind us like yesterday’s dreams.

In its place stood a wide, welcoming porch, and an apron-clad hostess beckoning, “Come in! Come in!” Inside, the air was redolent with fragrance. Cinnamon buns. Ham. And something else, discernible only with the spirit: the presence of Christ.

I’m positive he joined us as we sat around that table, beautifully decorated with smiling faces. I know he blessed us with his presence, influencing our thoughts and directing our conversation. I imagine his eyes gleamed. I imagine he listened to our chatter with interest. I imagine he chuckled.

It happened again a few evenings ago at our own home. Clouds hovered all day, threatening rain. But inside, as I prepared to open our home to others, God’s Son brushed my heart with joy.

The Preacher was away, so I’d invited five female friends. They flocked in, bearing dishes. We shared a salad supper, potluck style. We sat long. Talked much, laughed often. And sometime during the evening…perhaps when the youngest among us wandered over to our century-old piano, and teased a simple melody from its badly-tuned ivories…perhaps it was then, I sensed Christ enjoying the evening with us.

I have often, and gladly, shared time in restaurants with friends. But the convenience of not having to prepare both house and food comes at the expense of things precious: the joy of serving others, the intimacy of community life, and that sweet sense of sitting alongside a Divine, unseen guest.

When ordinary people share ordinary food and ordinary drink in an ordinary home, and when all that is mixed with love, something extra-ordinary happens. Something much sweeter than the triple-citrus cheesecake our daughter Amanda supplied that night.

Life, I think, doesn’t get much richer.

For decades, our family and friends sat around an antique nine-foot oak table. We’ve passed it on to our children now, but I cherish the memories made around its polished, time-and-child-worn finish.

We have a different table now, already sticky with memories of precious guests who’ve shared it—family, friends, strangers. Gratitude overflows in me for each one.

Hospitality is always work. But when love propels it, it serves us in the end, refreshing drained and soured spirits, and dishing up memories that sustain soul-health for years.

I challenge you: open your door. Make it potluck, if you dare. But don’t forget to invite Christ. He is spirit sustenance itself: Bread of life, Oil of joy. Living water.

Invite someone home.

reprinted from an earlier Sunny Side Up