Friday, September 26, 2014

Frozen Birthday Party: Part 2

What I love about hosting is that Jesus calls us to open our home to both friends and strangers. It is a discipline in our walk with Christ. It pushes us past pride and towards contentment.  God is the very author of hospitality.  When we give of our time, provisions, and service by welcoming others into our homes, we are walking in obedience. 

I'm not saying I am perfect on this front. Believe me, I see how difficult it is to be hospitable. But in the last year, as I was studying through the New Testament, I was struck by the number of passages that encourage and exhort believers to show hospitality. The introvert in me wants to spend all my free time reading. The shy person in me wants to spend time with just my family. The exhausted person in me longs for rest and an evening of leisure. The selfish person in me wants to horde all of our material and immaterial gifts to myself. The lazy person in me doesn't want to clean before and after people come over. The type-A person in me doesn't like to see the wear and tear that hosting 4-5 times a week brings. Yet, my spirit acknowledges that hospitality trumps these self-centered reservations. When I try to push myself through the steps because of a sense of a obligation, I become weary and resentful toward being a hostess. But when God grants me the grace to see hospitality  through His eyes, I am confronted by my sinfulness and aware that there is joy in obedience. That joy only is born out of obedience. That joy is found in serving others, not because I have to, but because I want to please the Lord. If this is the case, please, let my front door NEVER close. 

When we exercise hospitality, we can consider that which truly matters. 

To foster true fellowship, to help those in need, and to show love in a tangible way. All the while putting others before ourselves. 

Peter instructs us to show hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). Ouch! We do this, he says, because of love, and because we ought to be good stewards of the gifts God has given to us. This is not an obligation, but an extension of the grace that has been given to us. The purpose of these gifts is to serve one another! 

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." -Romans 12:9-13

Especially to those within the faith, be hospitable. 
Just as Titus' spirit was refreshed by the hospitality of the Corinthian Church, we can encourage fellow believers by welcoming one another into each of our homes (2 Cor. 7:13). Hospitality may be a spiritual gift that some exhibit beautifully, but it isa discipline all Christians are challenged to obey. It is not easy, and sometimes it is quite ugly. But there is often ugliness in refining processes, and God can surely use hospitality to refine His children. I think this is why He encourages us so strongly not to neglect hospitality. 

"Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." -Hebrews 13:1-2

So, even if you never host an angel--we are called to care for those around us. Read this parable and be encouraged to continue showing hospitality to whoever you can, whenever you can: 

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" -Matthew 25:31-40

Okay...this rabbit trail on hospitality started because I was looking at the first picture in this post. As I was deciding on whether or not to delete it, I couldn't help but feel blessed by hospitality. The loving hospitality that has been shown to me by friends and family, and the times I have been able to show hospitality towards others flashed through my memory. It is all worth it! It is better to give than to receive; and I often feel that way about opening my home to others. 

It is a blessing to be surrounded by many friends. 

 It was difficult to settle on a guest list for Willow's birthday party. As you can see, our apartment is on the small side and we could not invite everyone we wanted to! 

from Brad's iPhone camera...the dessert table was set up at such varying stages that there are really so many versions of what it eventually looked like. 

On the right, playing the snow ball game where kids had to knock over a tower of cups with 'snowballs' made from felt and...wait for it...toilet paper stuffing.

Singing happy birthday to the birthday girl! 

Willow did a much better job (compared to last year) opening gifts with appropriate levels of enthusiasm and expressed thankfulness.

Our crafty friend, Lauren, made Willow her very own "Elsa cape". Willow was very excited about the matching headband!

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