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I recently read two quotes, one being a Jewish proverb that said, “Hospitality is a form of worship” and the other being, “The heart of hospitality is when people leave your home they should feel better about themselves and not better about you.” These nuggets of wisdom caused me to pause and reflect: How so?
I spent a lot of time with my grandmother when I was a little girl. She taught me so much…a love for food, not only eating it, but shopping for it, cooking it, and preparing it for others to enjoy. One of her favorite things to do was to have guests for dinner. It was her gift. She would make her guest list weeks ahead of time, personally calling each person (on the phone, of course), then she would plan her menu and grocery list a week beforehand so she could begin preparations. The beautiful table would be set the day before, complete with fresh flowers, crystal tea glasses and water goblets, her finest china -- dinner plate, dessert plate, and bread plate -- and every silver utensil one could imagine -- knife, salad fork, dinner fork, dessert fork, spoon, and teaspoon.
She or my grandfather would greet each guest at the door, take their coat and purse, and then she would lovingly tell them where she wanted them to sit. I never quite understood this, except for the fact that she reserved the seat at the head of the table for herself. This allowed her easy access to the kitchen where the bounteous meal was, making it easier to serve her guests. She passed each dish… fried chicken, pot roast, three or four side dishes, usually vegetables from the garden, cornbread, and sweet tea. By the time the last dish was served, everyone's plate was so full that they could barely get anything else on it, much less have room for the 3 desserts she had made.
As I think about my childhood memories, they remind me that this is exactly what God through Christ has done for us. God has been hospitable to us. He knew that our humanness would rear its ugly head, so He planned long ago to bring us back to Him. He opened the door and invited us into His presence, a presence that leaves us feeling confident in who we are as His child. As He sat on the throne, He sent His finest, Jesus, who came not only to redeem us, but to show us how to serve. He's passing around the blessings… love, joy, peace, forgiveness, power through his Spirit, freedom from fear, fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ… so many blessings that if we will but partake, our plates will be overflowing. He’s sitting at the head of the table saying “come… dinner is ready.” We are invited to be His guests. May our appreciation of what God has done compel us to extend our own hospitality to those around us, and as they leave our presence, may they say, “I have tasted the Divine hospitality of God.”