By Kari Thomas
‘Tis the season for hospitality
The holidays are here and company is coming! When I was growing up, this was the time of year when we kept our house nice and tidy because friends and family were in town and could just randomly stop by, and if there was one thing my mother couldn’t stand, it was a messy house.
I can remember this being an annoying aspect of the holidays for me. Not because people would come over, but because we had to obsessively clean to prepare for them. I’m older now and fully understand the desire to obsessively clean the house for company.
In the last two years I’ve decided to be intentional about inviting people over to my house, and more specifically, cooking for them. I love to cook! Ask any of my friends — cooking is my love language. Every bite that you eat is my way of saying I love you. I even enjoy going to my friends’ houses and cooking for them.
Now allow me to back up. Hospitality does not come naturally to me. Up until two years ago, I was in the habit of going to work, coming home after picking up takeout and entertaining myself with the best that Netflix had to offer. But about two years ago I realized that I needed people. Even more than that, I realized that people needed me. Yes, people need me! God designed us in a way that makes us desire community (Romans 12:5). Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to not give up on meeting together.
God is constantly calling us out of our comfort zones as believers — and it’s beautiful. I’m thankful for the conviction I have that makes me share my home and my time with others. Some of the sweetest moments of fellowship that stick out to me in the Bible are when Jesus and others fellowship in homes and quiet places.
In learning how to “do” hospitality, I’ve enjoyed the wisdom of author and speaker Rosaria Butterfield. She reminds us that it is our duty as believers to facilitate these welcoming and deep relationships — and that the relationships themselves should be the focus. She says, “Hospitality shares what there is; that’s all. It’s not entertainment. It’s not supposed to be.”
Once hospitality became a more normal part of my life and not just during the holidays, I quit making sure my house was spotless and my dog was put up. I realized that’s not easy to keep up. Very recently I’ve learned that even making a whole meal for company isn’t always practical. I mean really, if you feel like you have to cook a meal every time you invite someone over, you wouldn’t invite people over that often. You couldn’t. I learned that lesson from some sweet friends of mine. We hang out together all the time and we’ve abandoned the notion that having a meal cooked is a prerequisite.
Right now we are in the best season to get a jumpstart on hospitality. My hope is that we continually fill our homes with joy and people, even after the holidays.
Kari Thomas is a Pearl native and the second born of five siblings. She graduated from Jackson State University with a mass communications degree, with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. For the last 11 years, her church home has been Redeemer Church, PCA on Northside Drive in Jackson.