CUPC is a blessed congregation. We have many ministry families and many others who are incredible church leaders. Each year we endeavor to equip and train leaders. In looking towards 2010 many ideas are pounding my thoughts. In pursuing things that I feel are important to God as well as traits that I feel are important to equip others I have stumbled upon the word hospitable numerous times.
In a very literal and true sense when we think of hospitable we think in terms of showing hospitality in our own homes. While this is a very true meaning of the word I believe hospitality reaches beyond the confines of a particular home. In fact I believe hospitality must be an important part of our church.
While I can entertain in my home I may not necessarily have a spirit or attitude of hospitality. I Peter 4:9 states we should offer hospitality without grumbling. In my casual way of thinking hospitality should be given with a happy heart. As an evangelist wife many years ago I was in many homes where I was shown hospitality with a happy heart. Unfortunately my husband also preached a revival or two where I felt everything but a happy heart from the pastor's wife as she entertained us. How uncomfortable I felt!
Titus 1:8 does not only admonish us to be given to hospitality but rather be a lover of hospitality. How much better would our guest feel if we LOVED entertaning? We are able to minister to others through hospitality according to Romans 12:12-13 and I Peter 4:9. Hebrews 13:2 instructs us to be hospitable to strangers. I believe when visitors come to our churches we are given the opportunity to express hospitality to strangers.
The scripture gives us many examples of hospitality. The Shunammite woman in II Kings 4:8-37 fed and even later added a guest room onto her home for Elisah, the man of God. According to Genesis chapter 18 Abraham entertained angels. Mary and Martha used their home to entertain according to Luke 10.
Hospitality is simply the friendly reception or generous treatment to guests or strangers. It is making welcome others with warmth. I believe hospitality can be likened to 'pampering'. Pampering goes above and beyond what is expected or required. It pays attention to little or minor details. Regularly I go to a particular nail salon for a manicure and pedicure. At this location I receive an adequate service for the dollars and tip I give. However, on rare occasion I go to a very nice day spa. This facility is very warm and inviting from the time I walk in the front door. Immediately I am greeted with a warm smile and soft spoken kind word. After a few seconds of causal conversation the receptionist moves into 'business'. Once the professional providing my particular service for the day retrieves me from the lobby I am offered a cool drink of water. Literally no detail escapes this location. Candles are burning, music is playing softly, lights are dim, & snacks and juices are available at no charge. I'm given a soft warm robe to wear and soft socks for my feet. The dressing area is very lavish, too. Each employee I come in contact with speaks peacefully and friendly to me. No one ever walks near me without a warm smile and friendly word. I leave feeling like a princess.
I pray in 2010 I can impart a true meaning of hospitality into every minister's wife and female leader of CUPC. This message bolted through my thoughts today at our altar. One of the men brought an obvious homeless lady to me. I was standing in front of all the other ladies in our altar area. We had several other visitors praying. I wrapped my arms around this not so clean lady and began to pray with her. I admit at first I walked thru the routine of being a good pastor's wife. A few minutes into prayer compassion gripped me and I began to weep as I prayed. After I prayed this simple lady said, "Thank you for touching me while you prayed." I smiled and was not quite sure how to respond. Then she looked at me square in the eye and said, "I feel so emotional. Why?" I shared with her about the love and mercy of God. She asked if God really loved her and begin to share some ugly details of her life. Much to my dismay none of the other ladies responded to this ladies walk to the altar. I KNOW some where praying with others and many ladies were singing, playing instruments, or teaching classes. Yet, I wonder how many were praying for their own needs or not praying at all? This has convicted me. I want every person who walks thru the doors of CUPC to feel loved and welcome regardless of their social status. Every little detail must be attended. This lady was a stranger. If we can't entertain her at an altar how will we ever entertain others in our homes?
Yes, this was a GREAT exception....our church has baptized more than 200 persons this year. We do MANY things for the poor. I am not addressing me being the only one praying with this lady rather maybe we need to have a hospitality radar set and make sure we don't miss a single person.
I am committed to hospitality. I will teach it, I will embrace it, I will live it. I realize many use these scriptures to refer to a Bishop or a pastor. I, however, realize this is a requirement that will involve every person in leadership. I look forward to 2010...it will be a teaching year for me!