This morning in church during the sermon my pastor talked briefly about the news continuing to come out of Aleppo. He talked about the terrible videos and shocking goodbyes some of the people under attack were sharing via social media in their last hours. It broke my heart, and it made me feel helpless to do anything that could change the situation.

*** 

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about the layers-deep struggles that remain in this country regarding racism, human rights, refugees and other difficult issues we watched explode during 2016. It was as challenging a conversation as you might imagine it to be, further complicated by our own generational lenses, varied perspectives, and interpretations of scripture. What we could agree on, was the feeling of helplessness that often overshadows conversations like this.

***

Before Christmas I had a conversation with GraceTable’s managing editor, Grace, and I told her that I felt like a fraud because I couldn’t currently talk about what practicing hospitality looks like in my life. I confessed that I felt like my own hospitality was hidden and small. The people God has me intersecting with these days aren’t projects, they are friends. Neighbors. Family. And the ways God is choosing to connect our hearts isn’t for public consumption but rather for private. And it’s a privilege.

***

In all of these various conversations one of the issues that continues to surface is the challenge of participation. Most of us cannot have any impact on a global scale and that can make the whole practice of hospitality feel small, unworthy. Pointless, even. But what I keep coming back to is that while we can’t solve the world’s problems, we can love those God puts in our paths. We can make space for those right here around us.

How simple that is, when you consider it. And how challenging it is. 

We spent the whole of 2016 sharing imperfect stories of hospitality here. The thing that all of them have in common is that the acts we write about here are what the world would call “small.” We aren’t making the evening news with the quiet ways we live out the command to practice hospitality. No one here has won the blue ribbon for the ways she opens her door, or her heart to those around her. But every act matters, because people matter. Because love matters. Because Jesus matters. And because ultimately, hospitality isn’t about showing off, but rather, showing up.  

No one here will dare tell you that showing up and practicing hospitality is easy or painless. If you’ve opened your door to a friend, neighbor or stranger in need, you know that’s complete bunk. Hospitality is the hard love that recognizes the requirement to lay down its own wants, desires and resources, to make space, to lift up, to carry someone else’s need. Hospitality is sacrificial. Our friend Ann Voskamp would call it “cruciform”–taking the form of the cross. 

We don’t expect to change the world in 2017–not directly, anyway. God’s not asking us to solve all of the problems in all of the land. But we can show up. We can start right where we are. We can love big in small, unseen ways, knowing that God uses all of it. 

With the New Year upon us we’re re-committing ourselves to the hard work of hospitality. To honor this re-commitment, I’ve got a few quiet, simple, completely do-able ways you can practice hospitality in the new year.

Practical ways to love your neighbor

  • Commit to serving those right there around you. You don’t have to look hard for someone to love or make space for. If you leave your house ever during the day, you are encountering people who could use some love. 
  • Meet your neighbors. If you haven’t met them yet, make an effort this year to meet them. Take them a plate of cookies, invite them to dinner, spend time outside with the intention of catching their eye or ear for a conversation. Don’t be weird about it, just say “hello.” 
  • Volunteer. Research community outreach opportunities in your area and get involved. You don’t have to do it every day. Maybe it’s once a month. Maybe it’s less. But find a hole and fill it. 
  • Donate. Give clothes, food, money, time, whatever you’ve got–share it with someone who needs it. 
  • Practice presence. The next time you’re with someone, be WITH them. Put your phone away, look them in the eyes and be all in. 

These are just a small handful of practical ways you can practice hospitality.

What does hospitality look like in your life right now? Leave a note in the comments and share your ideas and practices with us. 

Kris / Posts / Blog

Kris is a writer and artist living in the middle of Ohio. She loves Jesus, people, and words. She is most often found in her tiny kitchen, where she plays with her food. Having recently mastered the art of preparing perfectly crisp dino-nuggets–she is her children’s hero.

  • Lori
    http://waitingformymiracle.wordpress.com

    I had the privilege of making dinner for a dear friend last night whose career has recently thrown her into much traveling. Our Christmas Eve dinner was canceled due to illness in our house, so we rescheduled before she was on the road once again. She told me we could just do carry out so I could relax, and I kind of wanted to. But God gave me the energy I did not have to cook for her. I only had enough chicken soup left for the makings of one chicken pot pie and a small 2 lb roast. So roast and chicken pot pie it was! And by the way. I switched from using crisco to coconut oil in my pie dough, and it’s oh so good (that’s along with 12 tblsp of BUTTER). And there’s always just enough pie dough left to make little cinnamon rolls for a spontaneous dessert. So Father gave me the energy and the ideas and the joy of cooking for our dear friend who eats carry out all week. This God who has done and is doing amazing things also sits down with me at my kitchen table and helps me create a menu that will bless a sweet daughter of His. I love living every day life with Him.

    January 2nd, 2017 11:08
    Reply
    01
    • Kris
      http://kriscamealy.com

      I love this Lori. The simplest acts can be such generous offerings. This is beautiful…

      January 2nd, 2017 15:49
      Reply
      02
    • Maria Taormina

      Hi Kris. I have made it a point when walking into or out of our medical building to say hello or smile most people are racing and you would be amazed at how a person responds. Its simple but heartwarming. It’s something you can do wherever you go.

      January 2nd, 2017 17:37
      Reply
      03
  • Tamara Gonzalez
    http://tammygonzalez.org

    “Presence” is my word for 2017, and I’m already finding reminders everywhere! Yes to putting away that cell phone and being engaged with those around me rather than with the screen. Thank you!!

    January 2nd, 2017 11:08
    Reply
    04
    • Kris
      http://kriscamealy.com

      Thanks for being here, Tamara. I love the way God reminds us of what he is saying. Praying He leads you into a richer understanding of what “presence” can mean in His kingdom. 😉

      January 2nd, 2017 15:53
      Reply
      05
  • lynn
    http://madhatterpoetry.com

    I never thought I had the gift of hospitality or had the time to practice it but God has been using me to welcome the ones right around me. We farm with extended family and I realize every time I feed a crew around my table, I am practicing hospitality even if it’s burgers and beans. Recognizing it as a gift from God, I find I share it more joyfully!

    January 2nd, 2017 11:12
    Reply
    06
    • Kris
      http://kriscamealy.com

      Yes yes yes! Every time, Lynn. Beautiful.

      January 2nd, 2017 15:49
      Reply
      07
  • Emily Conrad
    Emily Conrad
    http://www.emilyconradauthor.com

    You’re right; it’s hard to feel like I make a difference in the grand scheme of the major heartbreak in the world. Yet, my husband and I are more consistently opening our home and inviting people in, and I hope that quietly loving our families and friends this way will serve as a ministry. As you wrote, “We can love big in small, unseen ways, knowing that God uses all of it.” It occurs to me that this post is the same kind of ministry, gently encouraging us to serve where we are, written in faith that God will use it. And He is, because this confirms for me once again the importance of those small-seeming acts of hospitality.

    January 2nd, 2017 12:07
    Reply
    08
    • Kris
      http://kriscamealy.com

      Right there with you, Emily. I have to believe that God uses whatever we offer. I have SEEN His multiplication at work and it’s always abundance, always more than enough.

      Keep opening your door, friend. It is a gift.

      January 2nd, 2017 15:51
      Reply
      09
  • Sarah
    http://scatteringgold.com

    I love these practical tips, Kris. Especially “don’t be weird. Just say hello.” 🙂 🙂 🙂

    January 2nd, 2017 13:40
    Reply
    10
    • Kris
      http://kriscamealy.com

      Ha. Thanks, Sarah. 😉 I’m so grateful for you.

      January 2nd, 2017 15:51
      Reply
      11
  • Leah Adams
    http://www.leahadams.org

    Kris, this might be one of my most favorite Grace Table posts….EVER! So much truth here and so much encouragement to make a difference in our sphere of influence….where ever that is and whatever it looks like. My husband said something to me years ago when I was lamenting the smallness of my ministry. He asked me which person was likely more deeply affected by Jesus~~the one in the big crowd or the one He ministered to one-on-one? Yes, it was probably the one who received His personal touch. God can use us right where we are to make a difference and the change the world for one person at a time. Happy New Year!

    January 3rd, 2017 4:52
    Reply
    12
  • Briana
    http://Www.judahupdate.blogspot.com

    I have been hosting something I call “Read aloud hour” for the preschoolers in my neighborhood. I’m a homeschool mom of two 12 year old boys and a 9 year old daughter to whom I don’t read picture books to anymore. My love for that along w my love for my neighbors and their sweet kiddos promoted me to reach out and provide this time once a month in my home. I love it, and so do they I think because they keep coming. ☺

    My husband and I also sit down with our calendar once a month and plan at least two Saturdays to invite folks over for a meal. Friends from church, our neighborhood, family, or whom we know from some other context. We just love gathering folks in our home.

    January 10th, 2017 21:16
    Reply
    13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *