Simple Hospitality​

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“Practice hospitality,” (Romans 12:13) is a Scriptural exhortation I enjoy fulfilling.  And though I like decorating the table, using my best china, cooking something special and serving it artistically, I’ve learned that hospitality is as simple as sharing what I have on hand. It is a lesson I learned during my missionary training days.

My husband and I had invited guests to share a meal with us on two different days. We asked a young couple we met at our church to join us for dinner on Saturday. For lunch on Wednesday, we would be hosting a missionary to Bolivia who had not been back in the United States for twenty years.

On Wednesday morning I took a roast out of the refrigerator to put in the crockpot for our special lunch.  Before I had it unwrapped, a staff member came to tell me the office had received a call saying that our guest would be unable to come. Since it was a cold, rainy day and I was no longer expecting my guest, I decided I would fix some canned soup for lunch and save the roast for our Saturday guests.

When lunchtime came, I placed some artificial tulips on the table to brighten the dreary day. I opened a couple of cans of chicken noodle soup and put the soup on the stove to warm. I unsealed a new box of soda crackers and arranged the salty squares in a breadbasket. As I started ladling the soup into bowls for my husband and me, there was a knock on our door. I opened the door and was greeted by a lady who said,  “Hello, I’m Alice Mickelson, I was told that I’m to be your guest for lunch.”

I don’t know if she noticed my look of confusion as I mentally reviewed the message the staff member brought that morning.  As I did so, I realized the call had been from my Saturday guests, but because the message had been delivered Wednesday morning I had assumed it was from Alice.

I invited Alice in to sit at our table. I ladled up the soup, feeling all the while it was a meager offering for someone I wanted to honor for serving the Lord so long in a remote area.

After grace was said, Alice reached over and placed several soda crackers on the plate that was under her soup bowl. Then she picked up a cracker, broke it in half with a snap and smiled.  Alice continued to smile as she munched on the cracker.  She picked up another saltine, repeated the snap, smiled and munched. As she reached for a third, white wafer, she said, “Thank you. These are a special treat. In Bolivia, we could occasionally get soda crackers, but they were never crisp. The humidity makes them so soft that they bend like cardboard.”

I smiled and passed the basket of crackers to Alice. As she placed more crisp squares on her plate, I realized that when we share what we have–even if it is only ordinary soda crackers – our guests are blessed by our hospitality.

What about you? What have you shared at your table lately?

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