A friend of mine, Becky, is teaching a lesson on hospitality and asked for some stories, recipes or thoughts on the subject. This is really something I have thought a lot about. Hospitality is one of those things that I CAN do. I am not a great leader, I don't sing well, and I am not even a great conversation starter. However, I can be hospitable.
I think that being hospitable could also be defined as being welcoming. Some of the details are different, but it is the same in most cultures. It is often the small things that really matter. The small things are the details that are different in other cultures. We pay attention to what has been done to us, and keep an open mind.
I have actually gone to a different Bible class in the past because no one said anything to me when I came to the class. I am not blaming anyone, because I could have been more out going and I was not exactly a new face...but if I was a new person or if I were visiting, I would not have felt welcome.
I remember Valerie Watrous introducing herself to someone, and she saying, " I don't think I have met you yet". That way she even the person was not new...no biggie. She had not met them before! I have used that line many times, now.
Here in China, we meet on Sundays in our home. Sometimes folks come for the first time. It is important to make people feel welcome and a part of the "family" here. The culture does not really support what we do, so we have to make them feel a part of a family. If they do not feel comfortable in my home, I might not be able to develop a relationship with them, and then I will not have a chance to share Greater things with them.
We don't wear our shoes in the house, so we have slippers available for our guests. On Sunday mornings we lay all the slippers out near the door, so friends can just slip into a pair.
I make sure there is extra toilet paper out where folks can see it in the bathroom. (no one wants to dig around looking for toilet paper).
I make sure there are a couple of boxes of tissues available in the living room. Someone always has to blow or wipe their nose.
We always make tea and sometimes coffee on Sunday morning. Jon will actually pour cups of tea for our guests even if they have turned down our initial offer for tea. (This is a Chinese thing). Sometimes he does not even ask if they want tea, he just hands them a cup.
A few weeks ago we had a new sister over for dinner. I made pot roast with vegetables, it was not what we would call Chinese food. We ate with forks, but I asked her if she would prefer chopsticks. She did. I made her feel more comfortable.
I don't think hospitality is difficult. A simple smile or hello can go a long way. The biggest part of hospitality is to be thoughtful of others.