Archive for the ‘hospitality’ Category

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Hospitality – philoxenia

December 21, 2007

Hospitality is central to Christian faith. One of the key Greek words for hospitality, philoxenia, combines the word for love, phileo, and the word for stranger, xenos.

“Although your job is very difficult and you help different people of all nationalities, you are working for God. Myself and my family never forget your kindness. In the name of Jesus we are praying for you. God bless you”

– a refugee from Iran

 

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Day Seven – A Taste of Things to Come

December 21, 2007

Key Verse: “In My Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you.”John 14:2

Read: John 14:1-4

Shortly before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, He comforted His disciples with these words – words of hospitality, looking forward to the day He would welcome them to their heavenly home. Have you considered that Jesus’ entire earthly ministry spoke of the crucial importance of hospitality? Jesus gave His life so that we could be welcomed into the Kingdom of heaven – and, in doing so, linked hospitality, grace and sacrifice in the deepest and most personal way imaginable. Hospitality here on earth is a reflection – a taste – of those things yet to come. Jesus is preparing a place for you! While you and I have the opportunity, oughtn’t we to reflect Christ’s hospitality and “prepare a place” for others?

Think About It: How will you respond to the hospitality that Christ has showered – and will shower upon you?

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Day Six – A Powerful Expression of Love

December 21, 2007

Key Verse: “… she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:38

Read: Luke 7:36-47

Perhaps nowhere else in the gospels is the imagery of devotion to Jesus as powerful as in this story of the woman with the alabaster jar. She came to Jesus in brokenness and humility, expecting nothing, simply wanting to pour out her expression of love at His feet. Although this act took place at another person’s home, Jesus makes it clear that the woman had shown Him greater hospitality than the host. Like in Bible times, hospitality today takes many forms. Bradford couple John and Helen do not yet have children of their own – but they have bought a large car fitted with three child seats to transport their refugee friends who live nearby. This – like the response of the woman at Jesus’ feet – might not fit the conventional view of hospitality. But it is hospitality in its purest form, nonetheless. It is like pouring perfume over Jesus’ feet.

Think About It: What alabaster love offering will you pour over Jesus’ feet?

 

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Day Five – Getting Over the Hospitality Jitters

December 21, 2007

Key Verse: “So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.” –Luke 19:6

Read: Luke 19:1-10

Ever wonder how Zacchaeus felt? Sure, he was excited at hosting Jesus. But don’t you think he might have had the hospitality jitters? As he rushed home, can you imagine all the doubts racing through his mind: “Does He know I’ve cheated people? Is the floor swept clean? Do I have food in the house?” When Sarah in Seattle agreed to host a young refugee couple from South Asia, she was nervous about it. They’d never eaten pizza or seen a hamburger.What could she feed them? In the end, Sarah – like Zacchaeus – accepted she simply needed to open her home and not fret about the details. She reflects: “You could think: ‘I can’t cook their food,’ but the real issue is: will I welcome a stranger as my friend?” Zacchaeus reminds us not to sweat the details. For when we take the step of faith and obedience, God provides the grace.

Think About It: Since when has a clean carpet meant more to you than a welcoming smile?

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Day Four – Excuses, Excuses!

December 21, 2007

Key Verse: “But they all alike began to make excuses…” Luke 14:18a

Read: Luke 14:15-24

Surely hospitality is only for those who have a nice, spacious house and a big dining table, right? Not so, says Christine Pohl, author of Making Room, Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. “Hospitality is not optional for Christians, nor is it limited to those who are specially gifted for it,” Pohl says. “It is a necessary practice in the community of faith.” In Hawaii, Hilary was flustered when her husband called home to say he’d met a recovering drug addict who had nowhere to stay. “We lived in a small fixer-upper and I was kind of embarrassed about the condition of the house,” recalls Hilary. “I made up a bed in the back room, but the only spare blankets belonged to my 2-year-old daughter and they had teddy bears on them.” Like those in Jesus’ parable, Hilary could have made excuses…not enough room, not enough blankets, house is too messy. But she didn’t. Each of us could wait for a better time, until everything is perfect, but that time never comes. We have this day to welcome others, this moment to extend the hand of Christian friendship.

Think About It: What excuses can you think of? How would they sound to God?

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Day Three – Welcoming the Stranger

December 21, 2007

Key Verse: “…I was a stranger and you invited me in…” Matthew 25:35b

Read: Matthew 25:31-40

Isn’t it great to have friends over? Or, even better, to get invited over to their place!But the Bible puts a different spin on hospitality. In Scripture, one of the key Greek words for hospitality, philoxeniô, combines the word for love or affection for people connected by kinship or faith (phileo) and the word for stranger (xenos). Hospitality’s orientation towards strangers is more apparent in Greek than in English. Jesus said that when we welcome a stranger, we welcome Him. “It is hard for us in the UK to seek out people who are not the same as us, ethnically, socially or economically,” says Eric, who opened his home to a young refugee couple from Asia. “Like Jesus, my focus needs to be on others and their needs, not on me and my wants.”

Think About It: When was the last time you extended the hand of welcome to someone you didn’t know, a stranger?

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Day Two – Spilling Over

December 21, 2007

Key Verse: “‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’”–Acts 16:15b

Read: Acts 16:11-15

There’s something very precious about Christian fellowship and hospitality shared among fellow believers. As Lydia demonstrated, hospitality is perhaps the greatest symbol of oneness – the most meaningful statement of unity – within the universal fellowship of believers. In many cultures, hospitality is a given. It is practiced with sacrificial generosity by the poorest families who have very little materially to share with their guests. During a short-term missions trip to Costa Rica, J.C. – a Maryland farmer – was bowled over by his hosts’ reception. The family of eight lived in a tiny single-room house and slept on mats on the floor. At meal times, they didn’t have enough chairs, so some perched on wooden blocks. J.C., though, was seated in the best chair. The next day, J.C. found his hosts had cut down branches and made him his own chair. “It blew me away to see how much they cared for me – a stranger – with the little they have,” he says. “Their love for God just spilled over.”

Think About It: How does your devotion to Christ “spill over” into the lives of others?