In these days of home makeovers and gourmet cooking, we feel pressure to be fabulous hosts. This commercial view of hospitality has seeped into our attitudes and actions about hospitality. In this sort of social entertaining, the focus is on the host. She prepares. She puts her best foot forward to make a good impression. Only when everything is just right do the perfect people come together for the perfect event. The host controls who comes, what is shared and when. Among all the pressures on the host to arrange everything perfectly, the needs of the guests are least important.
Let’s look now at another definition of hospitality: 1. a spiritual gift. 2. the act of making room, making ready, and being available for the needs of others. 3. the spiritual practice that calls the disciple to see Christ in the other. Practicing hospitality with this understanding shifts the focus from the host who is in control, to the Holy Spirit who guides us as willing partners ready to serve.
This message is excerpted from “Hospitality: More than Warm and Friendly” a program resource written by Valora Star, published by Women of the ELCA in 2009, and available at womenoftheelca.org.