This past week, Dan and I hosted a dinner party for the employees of our business along with their spouses, and a couple of primary contractors and their wives that have worked for us since we first started in the company. They all work so hard to make the business successful, and consequently, we wanted to create an opportunity for this great team to rest and enjoy some relaxing, lingering conversation with each other. As we all laughed, talked, and enjoyed a great meal in the beautiful setting of one of the lodges we manage, a guest commented to me about the great importance of hospitality, and the need for women to encourage each other to keep the practice alive and well!
As I thought about my friend’s comments, it was evident that preparing for, and hosting this dinner expressed the privilege we Christian women have of practicing the art of hospitality as a very pleasant biblical command that combats a fast-paced world that’s becoming more and more stressful. It really was fun. The lodge was a perfect size to accommodate the 30 guests, and the beautiful log structure was so easily compatible to decorating with a fall theme. Illuminated pumpkins, beautifully carved by my son-in-law Jason, lined the stone entrance, immediately providing a warm welcome to arriving guests. Inside the lodge, with a cozy fire in the stone fireplace, tables were set with white linens, candles, fall colored leaves and berries, and little favors of fall-colored silk gift-bags of gourmet popcorn.
Two fall-themed buffet tables were set, one for main course featuring my native Peroshkis (spiced ground beef and cheese in puff pastry,) along with herbed chicken and cream cheese wrapped in phyllo. Both were easy to prepare, yet elegant, and were all done ahead of time so that all I had to do was pop trays into the oven a half-hour before dinner. The dessert buffet featured a fall theme of pumpkin cake, assorted ginger, butterscotch, or chocolate brownies, a tray of cheeses and fruit, and cheesecake with “fall themed” toppings like caramel or sauteed apples. A variety of fall-colored candy, nuts, and dried fruit in glassware of differing heights helped create the colorful fall decor. The evening was fun, and such a good opportunity to enjoy people.
My friend’s comments reminded me again of how important it is to keep the art of hospitality alive and well, especially as our world is changing so rapidly. Exploding technology has inadvertently created an atmosphere where physical interaction with people can “virtually disappear” as it becomes so easily replaced with “virtual relationships.” Not only has the Internet created a constant way for you to stay connected to friends, but it’s also made it possible to run a business, to get all of your shopping done, to stay abreast of news, weather or sports, to read the latest bestseller within minutes of the initial desire to do so, to find recipes or answers to health issues– even to find a suitable marriage partner, for goodness’ sake–all without having any physical contact with another human being. Strange.
With technology exploding as it is, it takes a conscious commitment to combat these negative aspects that accompany the great advantages, and in the process, practicing the art of hospitality is probably at risk. Yet, as usual, the wisdom of the Bible withstands time and even technology, and puts a great emphasis in its command for us to “practice hospitality.” Romans 12 talks about the “gifts” that demonstrate the spiritual state of the Christian, and in verse 13 exhorts the Christian to be “given to hospitality.” “Use hospitality one to another without grudging,” 1 Peter 4:9 commanded.
Hospitality is so important, in fact, that the Bible gives instruction that men should not to be allowed to serve as leaders in the church unless they and their wives are skilled in the practice of hospitality. In 1 Timothy 3:2, Paul wrote, “An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” Again in Titus 1:7,8 he wrote, “An overseer…must not be arrogant or quick-tempered, or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Practicing hospitality is listed as a necessary qualification for church leadership, right along with being able to teach and being holy and disciplined. Pretty significant, I would say!
Entertaining in the form of hospitality keeps fellowship with others alive and well. It draws in the weary, the stressed, or the unbelievers and helps to build friendship and trust, providing the opportunity for others to know us and see the testimony of Christ alive and well in our lives and homes. It creates opportunities to edify, share the truth and love of Jesus Christ, and bless others with a reprieve from daily stresses. When entertaining is focused on serving and blessing others, finding ways to help those in physical or emotional or spiritual need, it is truly defined with a God-centered, “Theocentric” purpose.
Hospitality has provided a wonderful connection with our neighbors and friends as we’ve shared dinners together, enjoyed pool-side get togethers, toasted marshmallows around the fire-pit, or entertained our children’s friends for weekend getaways to our house. With the upcoming holiday season, so many opportunities are right ahead of us. What a great way to obey the commands of Scripture! As Christian women, we ought to encourage each other to hone the skill with grace and beauty.
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