We are back in Portland now. We had a sudden change of plans Sunday after church so we decided to try and see some really good friends of ours from Fuller who moved up here a year ago. Because this was on short notice we did not have access to their phone numbers but we decided to drive out to where they live and see if they were home.
I did my best to lead us to their new house where I had visited them this summer and I managed to get us there without any major detours. When we pulled up there was a car in their driveway that we did not recognize. As we came to the door we could see that they had company already.
Their company turned out to be his parents from California who were visiting for the weekend. They graciously welcomed us into their family time of drinks, conversation and watching the Denver Bronco’s game. Within minutes, Mercy was deconstructing our friends’ nativity set and Aaron was happily eating some of their daughter’s toys. Meanwhile Doug and I had a glass of a good Shiraz and a bottle of a favorite NW beer in our hands before we knew it.
After we left, Doug and I both remarked how these friends just ooze hospitality. Regardless of other guests and a planned dinner, there was a place made for our family to come in and be at home. I am not sure I know of anyone else who does a better job than they do of making people feel welcome. Actually, they remind me a lot of how I saw my parents treat those who came to our home when I was growing up. Anyone who knows my parents can testify to their generosity in sharing home and table regardless of convenience or previously held plans.
We felt rested and renewed after being with them in their home. Hospitality is a truly powerful offering that can have that kind of transformative effect on a person. It makes sense why so much of Jesus’ ministry was spent dining and resting with people. While he was most often the guest in someone else’s home, there was something about him that caused those around him to experience the kind of welcome we were given by our friends, regardless of how “challenging” they may have been.
Too often we measure the church’s “hospitality” in terms of Starbucks coffee and good signs. I wonder how it would be instead to use interruption and inconvenience as our measuring tools.