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What Is Hospitality?

The final quarter of each year brings with it many opportunities to gather and practice hospitality. Or, at least what we think is hospitality. We’ll be spending the next 3 months within our Community taking a closer look at what it means to be hospitable and how we can practice true hospitality. To kick things off, let’s make sure we understand exactly what it means to show hospitality. Here’s what the dictionary has to say:

hos·pi·tal·i·ty | (häspəˈtalədē)

A noun meaning the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

This word is derived from the Latin word “hospes” meaning visitor or stranger. That might be new information to some who think of every gathering in their home as a time of practicing hospitality. The truth of the matter is, we often confuse community, fellowship, and hospitality; often lumping them all into the same category when they are in fact different, both in focus and in function. Let’s break it down a bit further to help us fully understand the difference, so that we can get to the root of, and ability to practice, true hospitality.

Fellowship is when connectedness or relationship is shared among those with a common aim or background.

Community builds upon fellowship to create a sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals, creating a body of persons of common interest within a larger group or society.

Hospitality is providing an act of service of welcoming, receiving, hosting, or entertaining guests or strangers.

True fellowship and community exist among those who have found a common ground and a connectedness. Hospitality reaches outside the bonds of fellowship found within community to reach those on the “outside” of the group; guests visiting a community, or possibly even complete strangers. 2023 Overcome speaker, Jessica Herberger, who will be providing a workshop about Hospitality on October 7 (read on in the newsletter for more) shared another way to look at the difference:

Hospitality is others focused | Community is actually self-serving (And that’s not bad!)

Hospitality is external movement | Community is internal

Hospitality is making sure someone else has a seat at the table | Community is having a table to sit at

So why is it important to understand the intricacies of hospitality? As Christians, we are called to be hospitable. There are many verses alluding to, or specifically instructing, acts of hospitality.

Romans 12:13 - Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Matthew 25:42-46 -

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Hebrews 13:2 - Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Galatians 6:10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Just to name a few. Around Northside Church of Christ, just as is likely the case around your congregation, there are lots of ways to get involved in showing hospitality. From housing traveling teens and others on mission trips as they pass through town, to opening our homes for Connect Bible Studies (where we invite the community in to hear the word of God and feel our love for them), to feeding guests lunch after services on Sunday mornings, to helping collect donations to benefit those served by shelters and places like Simple House, where the recipients are, and may always remain, total strangers...there are endless ways to practice hospitality the way God commanded.

We would love to hear from you! What does hospitality look like around you? We’ll be asking this question on social media and hope you’ll chime in. As part of this Community, let’s help each other grow to be better at hospitality. We’ll continue to study and hone this topic throughout this upcoming quarter and look forward to your participation. Be sure to check next month’s newsletter for special challenges aimed at helping us all grow and be better at serving through hospitality.

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