Capel Community Church: Offering Hospitality
Pre-pandemic, I had not fully realised just how important hospitality is. Perhaps when you are not able to invite people to your home, you come to notice what you are missing.
Hospitality means ‘the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers.’ I have lots of wonderful memories of entertaining guests whom my husband and I have invited, or unexpected visitors that I know. Yet often, the most enlightening times have been when we have entertained near strangers. The Bible talks about this:
“Show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels from God showing up as your guests.” (Hebrews 13:2)
You may be forgiven for thinking, “Why would we invite strangers in, when we don’t know we can trust them?”. I need to clarify that we don’t just go out into the streets and invite random people into our home (although that might be exciting!). However, through being part of a local church, we have offered to host people who are visiting the area or the UK, and they have come to our home for a meal or to stay over.
One particular guy called Mukhtar, an Egyptian, came to stay with us while on a short course. He found us through coming to the church we were then part of in Surrey. He was fascinating to be around and in the short time he was with us, we learned a lot about his story; how he had found faith in Jesus and converted from Islam. He had to flee Egypt, as he and his family suffered persecution. It gave us an insight into what it means to be a refugee and to need shelter and acceptance, both of which we can often take for granted. He later reciprocated our hospitality with his own and invited us to stay with him and his family in Cyprus, which was an unexpected and lovely gesture. We never know what offers of hospitality can lead to!
Being hospitable opens up the possibility of sharing in others’ life stories, which is, in itself, really interesting. When people open up to you over a meal, it is a real privilege to be able to celebrate the good stuff, and maybe bring comfort or understanding in the heartaches too. I have missed that!
‘Hospital’ appears as part of the word ‘hospitality’ and I think that this is no accident. Apart from offering sustenance or a bed for the night, hosts can often find themselves ministering love, hope and healing to those who might be feeling a bit broken or lonely. Mind you, if unwittingly entertaining angels, then the hosts may also find themselves being ministered to!
I encourage you, in our interests, to be open-hearted and generous in opening your home or garden again, as we move out of lockdown and into a time to experience the pleasures of being friendly hosts once more.
Amanda Firmin, Leadership Team, Capel Community Church
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