I’m moving towards something God has been pressing down on my heart to pursue: servant hospitality.
If you watch any amount of Home and Garden TV (HGTV), you’ll hear people shopping for new houses and how it will be great for ‘entertaining.’
“This floor plan is so open and great for entertaining.”
“This is the perfect entertainment house – all your friends will enjoy themselves!”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘entertainment’ as ” amusement or pleasure that comes from watching a performer, playing a game, etc.; the act of amusing or entertaining people.”
There’s a lot of pressure in our culture today that hinges on entertainment value in everything you do. You’ve got to entertain your kids, entertain your dog, consume entertainment on every device in every room . . . like clown tricks and juggling.
I don’t want to entertain, I want to serve. To feed the widow and orphan, to welcome in the lost, to welcome in the wandering.
Not All Who Wander are Lost
Tolkien writes, “Not all who wander are lost.”
Well, that might be true, but there are many people wandering, looking for connection and belonging. They might have moved and aren’t near family; they might be recently divorced or widowed; they might be enduring a nasty break up; they might have big needs that no one can see except those who open their doors and their hearts and say, ‘welcome in out of the cold.’
It takes one to know one.
I’ve had years as a child where I was surrounded by family but felt alone. There was one year in particular when I was about six years old and was the only child at the Thanksgiving table. My parents set out a small kid table and I was the only one at it. Then they forgot about serving me dinner. I was so upset, I ran to my room crying.
While I grew up and dealt with those feelings and emotions, there are still adults walking around with that feeling of lostness and abandonment; slighted by their families, left hurt by those who were supposed to love.
Being open to how the Holy Spirit guides us and opening our doors when asked to serve–these are the markers of servant hospitality.
Serving others well, even when we’re tired, even when we feel like we have nothing to offer, nothing to give.
‘Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor’
It reminds me of the quote by Emma Lazerus from the Statue of Liberty inscription:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It’s very American of us to welcome stragglers and strangers into our midst; we have a long history of giving refuge to those weary from journey, helping them find a place in the world to rest their heads.
If we can only move past ourselves, our limitations, and what our culture deems as ‘entertainment’ and be open to a kind of servanthood that emboldens us to avoid eye contact with the dust bunnies glaring at us from the recesses of our corners, we can welcome well those who need companionship, a good cup of coffee, and a place to rest–even if just for a moment.