Susan woke up one morning with leftover cookies from a big batch she’d made to welcome her son home from college for Christmas. After a few days with an abundance of cookies testing her willpower, she had to stop eating them, but hated to toss them in the garbage. In a spontaneous move, she texted several friends: “Come to the table in the morning for coffee and Christmas cookies.”
This may not seem out of the ordinary until you consider a spur-of-the-moment gathering is out of character for Susan, a self-proclaimed introvert.
“I didn’t let myself think about the fact that it was the worst possible time of the year to plan such a gathering,” she said. Common sense told her no one would be able to t in an impromptu gathering two weeks before Christmas, but the cookies had to go!
She also didn’t overthink texting me. She saw my name in her contact list and thought, Why not? The worst she can do is say no.
When I received Susan’s text, my first instinct was, Are you kidding? Christmas is almost here; it’s the last week of school. I have a million things to do.
My mind was whirling with excuses and how I didn’t have time for coffee, but my fingers typed the message, “Thanks, I’d love to join you.”
I didn’t know Susan that well; in fact, I’d only met her once. And I had no idea who else would be at the table.
Later that day, I thought, This is crazy, but why not show up to a stranger’s house for coffee with several women I’ve never met? I smiled, thinking of the experience at Olga’s home in Russia decades before.
The next morning I showed up at Susan’s home. It was sleeting, so we moved from the Turquoise Table inside to her dining room table. I wish I could bottle up the feeling of being included and welcomed that morning. I sat at the table with four women, friends for decades, drinking homemade peppermint lattes with gingerbread garnishes. And it was as if I had known them forever too.
It takes special hearts to welcome a complete stranger into the fold. At Susan’s that morning I was the stranger who was very well loved. What an encouragement to pass it on.
The word recipe means both to give and to receive. It’s a beautiful paradox, the fullness of giving and receiving. Likewise, to experience its fullness, hospitality requires us to be both host and guest.
Sometimes we are the guest and sometimes we are the host. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. Jesus models this in His ministry — relying on the hospitality of strangers, having no real home. Yet at the same time He teaches us how to be a host by His perfect example.
Excerpted with permission from The Turquoise Table by Kristen Schell, copyright Kristen Schell.
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Hospitality may seem like a boring spiritual trait, and yet we are built for community! An added benefit is shared with us in Hebrews 13:2 — Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. How about that?! The Christmas season can get quickly filled with obligations, but this year let’s make space for a few moments for coffee or a meal with a new friend or two. Who knows where it may lead! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full