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I remember an older woman in my congregation many years ago telling me that if she had a few tea bags, a loaf of bread, and some jelly, she would always be ready for company. “Tea and toast,” she said. “Tea and toast.” The art of inviting people into our homes is changing, I think. We are “connected” through social media and work, and it feels like enough, but is it? The pandemic shutdown pushed us further into isolation and now we’re thawing out, flowers in water. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to open up my home to others and the reasons I don’t do it more often. The house is too messy. What would I serve? My couches are old and they don’t match. And yet every time I take a risk and invite others over, they have a wonderful time. We laugh and enjoy good food. Nobody mentions the fact that the couches don’t match.
Teaching children that homes are meant to be shared is a great gift, as well. It brings connection and joy. Hospitality is about the guest, not the host. It’s about trying to make someone feel welcome and comfortable.
Are you looking to have more guests to your home? Here are some principles to keep in mind.
Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea — Simple things become beautiful with a lot of love. When thinking about having guests over, focus on the beauty of your time together, not the elaborate menu (unless, of course, you love to cook.)
Mi casa es su casa — “My house is your house” is a saying in Spanish that we try to live by. It can feel vulnerable to have people poking through your dishes and your fridge to make themselves at home, but it’s the way to true hospitality, I think. One way we maintain a sense of privacy and boundaries is to keep certain rooms of our home closed when guests are over.
Give thanks to God for the gift of friends and strangers — It’s all gratitude and grace. The Bible says that by hosting friends, sometimes we entertain angels without knowing it.
Opening your home can feel like opening up your heart, but the rewards can be great. How are you opening your heart to visitors and friends? Do you have some bread and water? It is enough.