I’ve been thinking a bit about hospitality recently. You see, last month our church was informed that we will be visited by a youth choir from Texas, that has around 125 members. We were encouraged to consider hosting some of them in our homes. Specifically they would need an opportunity to shower, a place to sleep and breakfast, before coming back the church to perform. On some level that’s quite reasonable, but after a week, there were places for only about 25 of them.
So our chatty Sunday school class started discussing options. Obviously, with a church whose average attendance is a shade over 300, it would be hard to put all of them in homes. And traveling youth choirs most often just stay at the church, in whatever space is available. Unfortunately, we have no shower, so we started tossing out other ideas. Perhaps they could use showers at the nearby Christian high school, or another church nearby that has showers. Or maybe they could shower at one of the fitness centers in the area? But those ideas either were not pursued, or we were refused, since the next week they were requesting that those who own RVs bring them to church to be used for housing/showers.
Well, I began to think of other options. How many people could one family actually house? When my sister got married in Europe, she put up a family in each room of her house, with some borrowed beds. It was crazy, but it worked surprisingly well, since a few others stayed in hotels. Of course, that was in a sparsely furnished new home, not a stuffed to the gills older one, like ours. I had not volunteered to host anyone yet, because though we have a couple of extra beds, the stuff all around them is a problem! Well, to be honest, the stuff on them is as well. But for a bit, I entertained the idea of bringing home like 8 of them and putting half in the house and half in a tent outside. Then I came back to earth, since we do not even have car space for that many, not to mention the piles in my house and the fact we have only 2 bathrooms and a 60 gallon hot water heater.
Well the next week the number had risen to 40 and things began to look hopeful. On the other hand, it seemed that with chaperones, the number was actually 144, so we still needed space for about 100. Yikes! My crazy brain started coming up with other ways to accomplish the shower issue, using hand held camp showers and privacy enclosures. Instead, each week the number housed crept up by 20 or more. After passing on my ideas, I got busy with graduations and travel and figured we would probably clear out some space and house at least a couple, though I was still not on the official list to do so.
I guess I had not really consulted my own family on this. I mean, in my mind it’s a given that however humble your abode, you offer hospitality if there is a need. I stayed in a number of homes in my younger years. But my daughter had a fit when I started talking about it, saying our home is simply too dirty to bring guests into. Well, there are places I never get to, but I do clean on a regular basis. Some of what she calls dirt is simply the fact that we have an older home, and things like bathtubs tend to look grimy simply because some spots won’t clean away. My son volunteered to make himself scarce, rather than entertain strangers. And my husband thought the piles made our house simply ineligible for anyone to stay here.
So I realized that apparently my concept of christian hospitality and its importance is simply not shared with the rest of the family. It has been a while since any of our friends stayed over. My friends tend to be clutter challenged as well, so they don’t mind. The same might not be true of whoever we got to stay here. But I think something else is going on. When I was growing up, staying with relatives or friends was a financial necessity and a motel was a luxury we experienced rarely. To my kids though, except for visiting grandparents, who generally have extra bedrooms, hotel rooms are assumed to be part of traveling. Unfortunately, the side effect of that, is they really have not learned how to be gracious hosts. I guess hospitality, as a gift of the Spirit, has bypassed this house full of introverts!