Hospitality is a gift. It is one of those gifts that some people have been blessed with abundantly. Ever visit someone, family/friend/relative, and you could tell they wanted to make sure that you felt completely comfortable? Some people have the natural ability to really enable you to “feel at home”.
I knew one woman who was so hospitable that it seemed like she always had my favourite pie coming out of the oven when I came over.
Some friends from Saskatchewan had this great capacity to make everyone who walked through their door feel like they could put their feet up and relax. It was great! I loved visiting them.
I have visited a few churches that were close to providing that same feeling…even when it was the first visit, I felt like I’d been there forever. One Sunday, I ended up having no commitments and decided to simply go to a church just to worship – no presentations, no preaching or leading. The people greeting there didn’t know me, but gave me a warm welcome. I arrived just before the service started and chose an empty pew. A moment or two later, one of the greeters came over to me, introduced herself by name and pointed out the prayer book for that day and which song book they’d be using. It was great! I smiled, already knowing the lingo and not feeling awkward about the bookshelf in front of me.
She smiled and said, “If you get lost, my husband and I are sitting right behind you – just let us know.” I was really impressed with their warmth and hospitality. It was a small congregation, nothing fancy, no frills – but a warm community of believers.
We can get awfully comfortable with the way our church services run, so much so that we can forget how foreign it may be to someone who’s visiting. Put yourself in their shoes. What might it take for someone new to walk in and feel like they’ve come home? Better get that pie out of the oven!