Monday, October 16, 2017

Autumn is a Season Perfect for Hospitality: Gather Your Friends and Family

There’s just something about autumn.

I can try to describe it with words like crisp, colorful, and cozy, but really fall is something that must be experienced to remember why it’s so special.  The smell in the air is different. The trees light up in blazing colors of red and orange.  The wind becomes fiercer and brings with it a coldness that sends shivers through bodies wrapped in flannels and scarves.

The season begs for bonfires, hot soup and warm bread, snuggling under cozy blankets, and gathering with family and friends.

Gathering. That’s my favorite part of autumn. 

When I was in college, I started meeting with a small group for the first time in the fall. This group was led by an incredible woman named Amy who brought us in for bible studies, hosted seasonal parties and wedding showers, and would gather us around her kitchen table for tea and conversation.  Her home was always open to us. Every fall I remember my time in my college small group, both for the sense of belonging created there, and because autumn is always a reminder of Amy’s unexpected passing.  Her death left a desire in me to open my home to love others like she loved me.

Recently, my family moved into our new home.  When we bought our land and built our house, our goal was to create a space where our family could thrive, but our hope was also to make it a place where people would want to gather. A place where they would want to sit outside on cool evenings watching a fire dance. A home where they would feel comfortable pulling a chair up to the table.  A porch where they would sit for hours.

Based on what I just told you, you could assume I’m great at this whole hospitality thing. Really, I’m good at a lot of things, but hospitality is not one of my strengths. I don’t cook because my family likes to eat meals that taste good.  My house is never spotless; there’s always a pile of papers on the island, clothes on the laundry room floor, or dishes in the sink.  Currently, there’s a path of muddy dog prints from the back door, through the kitchen, to my master bedroom that have been there for three days now. No lie.

In the past, this kept me from opening my home to others. I so desperately wanted, like Amy, to create an open home, but it was embarrassing to think people would enter my house and see all the ways I fell short. I kept walls up and doors closed, figuratively and literally.

But not now.  God has been using His Word to stir up a desire to swing my doors and my heart wide open. 

Throughout the New Testament we read stories of people gathering in homes and around tables. The early church made a point to function as a close community, to create a place of belonging.  Isn’t that what all Christians are called to?  The greatest commandment tells us to love God and love people.  And what better way to love people and live out our faith than to open our home and our lives to others. 

People don’t come into our lives because we have it all together.  Truth is, not one person walking this earth has it all together. It’s about time we take off our masks and start being genuine.  Embrace your imperfections because that’s what creates comfort and comradery.  Imperfect people seek out other imperfect people to do life together.

Life is busy and fast and hectic, but we only get one life to live. In this one imperfect life, we have the opportunity to leave a legacy of love.  As James 1: 22 (ESV) reminds us, we get to “be doers of the word and not hearers only.”

As the leaves change and the air turns crisp, may we have the courage to overlook our imperfect lives and bust our doors wide open. And may God remind us this is a beautiful season to gather and create belonging.                                                                                                      


Unknown said...

Ahhh funny!
"I don’t cook because my family likes to eat meals that taste good".
I tell mamas never to apologize for their "mess". Most of us are in the same "mess" so why apologize? Yes ooening our doors feels great God bless!

Stephanie said...

Thank you for the encouragement!