“Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help.”1 Peter 4:9 MSG
With the holidays in the rearview mirror, now is the season we tend to retreat into our private corners in this neck of the woods. So much energy is used up in December for generosity and hospitality… who wants to try to keep it up?
Peter was no stranger to hospitality. Having traveled with Jesus for three full years, Peter would have been well acquainted with the generosity and hospitality of Martha and Mary and many other men and women who opened up space and time in their lives to provide for the wandering band of disciples. You can bet those gatherings were filled with good food and drinks, warmth and light, and raucous laughter that gradually sizzled down to quiet reflections and shared intimacies from all who were gathered, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their failings, all brought into the light of vulnerability and love.
In his letter much later in his life, Peter exhorts his readers to “Love each other as if your life depended on it.” The sentences that follow give a portrait of what that love might look like: feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, be generous with what you have. These are the evidence of God’s light in us, God’s presence made obvious by our posture with outsiders and neighbors alike.
As we launch ourselves into a new year, let us not forget the joy, pleasure, and camaraderie shared around a table set with generous hospitality.
Points of Reflection
- How frequently do you get together or host friends or family in your home?
- What could you do extra or differently to invite God’s bright presence into your home and gatherings?
For the Kids
- What are some ways you can be generous with what God has given you?
- How does generosity and providing for others demonstrate God’s love?
If hospitality is a gift of yours, set a plan for how often you would like to host people in your home, and generate a list of people you’d like to get to know better. There’s no better way to get to know someone than to share a meal with them. If sitting down with one other person or just one couple feels intimidating, invite several friends all at once, so there’s less pressure. If hospitality is not one of your strengths and the idea of regularly hosting people in your home gives you anxiety, what other ways are you able to be generous with what God has given you? Think about ways you can bless people with your words, with your resources, with your time, or with your actions. Generous hospitality doesn’t have to look like hosting a meal: maybe you invite someone out for coffee or for lunch or dinner and pick up the tab. Maybe it means taking a walk with someone. Maybe it means becoming aware of the needs of the “least of these” in your community and finding ways you can be generous and hospitable towards them. Ask God to help you see the needs so you can sense how you can respond in love to those needs.
ReadingsIf you love food and community, then Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist is a winner for you. This collection of essays talks about family relationships, friendship, and the meals that bring us together. Shauna Niequist is most recently the author of I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet: Discovering New Ways of Living When the Old Ways Stop Working.