By Brian Sharpe
I am the son of a pastor. My dad had a church of 50 to 100 people until I was 16. I remember one Sunday morning when I was younger, when on the way to church my parents told me that they were having the speaker over for lunch after church. I remember thinking that was odd. When we arrived at church I went directly to the sound speakers that were set up in the sanctuary and I started trying to open them. I thought to myself, “There is no way a person can fit in this speaker. How does this all work?” Well, I went to Sunday school and then to church. I saw who was speaking. It wasn’t my dad, it was someone else. Then when I got home and sat at the dinner table the guy who was speaking was sitting at my table.
That is when it hit me. The speaker my parents were talking about wasn’t the sound speaker, but the preacher who was bringing the message.
I was thinking about that story a couple weeks ago when Martin and I were talking about the lost art of hospitality. My parents seemed to always have people over for meals. I also had a friend named Chad, and I would go over to his house all the time. I would not call and texting didn’t exist, so they had no clue I was coming, but I was always there. He would do the same with me. We knew everything about each other. We knew the good and the bad because we were with each other all the time. His parents were hospitable to me.
Hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. When I think of hospitality in our culture, it takes an intentional decision to have people over. It is not part of who we are as a culture anymore. The quick drop-in is seen as rude by some people. The last-minute call to come over is met with, “I am just too tired,” or, “I have other things planned.” The intentional set-a-date-and-time is met with full calendars and months between visits. We need to change our schedules to leave room for others. I would suggest that we need to make room for others and be the first to invite others over for dinner, coffee, games, or just a time to sit and chat on the deck.
Loneliness is all over our culture. It is all over our church. Loneliness is tied to health failure, whereas companionship leads to longer lives. We were created by God for others. Who are those others outside of your family that you are meeting with outside of a church program? This last week I was tired and my sleep schedule was all out of whack because of the day of prayer and some meetings the next day. I was tired and not really wanting to do anything in the evening because I wanted to go to bed, but we had scheduled a time with some friends. I didn’t want to reschedule because we had not gotten time as a couple with each other in a long time. So I pushed through — and it was awesome! It was so life giving. We had a great time. I needed that time. We all need time.
Who are you making time for in your home? Who are you getting nachos with late at night just to talk life? Who are you having over to play games? Who is as lonely as you and is just waiting for some time with someone else? We need to rediscover the lost are of hospitality … which, in all reality, is the lost art of being friends and being friendly.