The typical picture of American hospitality looks something like this: you clean your house, your kids, yourself, you prepare some refreshments, and then you invite people into your world. Perhaps your house doesn’t look quite like Pinterest and you don’t look quite ready for a TV debut, but you make an effort to create an atmosphere conducive to building community. This is a perfectly good model, but this year “hospitality” was turned on its head in the Range household…and it was a gift.
Several months ago, Laura broke her foot and sustained extensive nerve damage. Literally overnight, people were in our world. There was no opportunity to clean our house, our kids, ourselves in preparation…in fact, we found ourselves quite unable to do so and dependent on our “guests” to help us. For nearly 8 weeks our church flowed constantly in and out of our house with meals, groceries, house cleaning professionals (seriously!), and rides to appointments, school, and work. We were in survival mode—there was little time to straighten up for the next round of company (we might have even skipped a shower or two) but people came and went nonetheless.
But here’s the thing: everything we hope to accomplish when we practice hospitality—building community, sharing our lives, blessing others—all those things and more were accomplished during this time in a precious, irreplaceable way. There is a lot of vulnerability involved in letting others help you get in and out of a car, change your baby’s diaper, and clean your toilet. But being vulnerable with others allowed them to be vulnerable with us in return, and during those car rides and hours spent at home, we were able to connect with and pray for a number of people in a way that we never had before. Additionally, this everyday display of exceptional care and support was a tangible witness to non-believers in our lives, who were suddenly interested in the church that cared so well.
Jesus was not very concerned with appearances when he invited himself over to dine with Zacchaeus. Instead, in a very come-as-you-are way, they shared a meal as sinner and savior – no pre-cleaning of his house—or his soul!—required. But their shared time was life-changing.
May we carry this lesson with us: rather than waiting on the right timing and set of circumstances, may we make it a priority to regularly graft people in as we go about our lives—messy houses and imperfections and all—and trust in our God to create beauty in our shared time.
Thanks to Clay & Laura Range for writing today’s post! Clay is one of our church elders and Laura has served at NSCBC in a variety of capacities.