When I was growing up I had an Edna Mae. She was an older woman who was invested in my life from the time I was very young until she passed away several years ago. She was a widow in our church that my parents had invited to share a meal with us occasionally after services. She was the woman who thought I could do no wrong, helped me get ready for prom (she only had sons), and was the personal attendant at my wedding.
We are not from Minnesota originally and had no family in the area when we started our family 21 years ago. Pretty much from birth we began to pray that God would bring an “Edna Mae” into our daughter’s life. That prayer was answered with a next-door neighbor who became family to us and to our 2 girls. It started with the occasional wave or short conversations when we happened to be outside at the same time.
Things progressed after a couple of years when we were unable to find a sitter for our newborn daughter for a weekly couples Bible Study. Feeling we had nothing to lose, we asked the neighbor to consider babysitting for a couple of hours once a week. She said she would try it for a month and never stopped – not even when the younger sister came along 2 years later.
Since she would not accept payment for the time she spent with “her girls” we found other ways to repay her. Removing a tree, cleaning her gutters, doing snow removal, repairing her steps and so on. When our daughters became too old to need a sitter she scheduled time alone with them each month all the way through high school. She has shared many a meal with our family over the years and attended every birthday party, choir concert, graduation and special event in our daughter’s lives over the last 21 years. She is, quite simply, family and it all started with a friendly smile and wave.
Looking around you who are the people and where are the places that you can extend the gift of hospitality? Not the pinterest, Martha Stewart over-the-top kind - although there is nothing wrong with that if it is done with right motives – blessing others and not seeking to impress others, making it about them and not about you.
I am speaking more along the lines of including others at the lunch table, inviting people into your home (mess and all), reaching out to people in need, and striving to bless others with your time and undivided attention. To practice Biblical hospitality which ultimately means to honor and obey God by serving those around us.
The Bible has a lot to say about hospitality. A few examples - Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.” 1 Peter 4:9 tells us to show hospitality to one another without grumbling. And Romans 12:13 exhorts us to contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Ask God today to show you who is need of hospitality around you and how you can meet that need.