I have a secret love affair, which I don’t share with many people. It’s musicals. I adore them. As in I have always wanted to sing in a musical. This summer for our 10 year anniversary, my husband surprised me with tickets to watch Les Miserables, six rows from the front. Twenty minutes in had me bawling. Maybe it was pregnancy hormones, the love a mother had for her child, or the scandalous grace bestowed upon Jean Valjean, which he gave to others in return.
What I witnessed nearby? Women wiping their eyes. Even men trying to be discreet. Did they know of the grace my Jesus offers? Is that why they cried? Were they recipients of this gracious love? Or were they left out in the cold, no one speaking up for them? Why did this Jean Valjean character receive the loudest applause at the end? Could it be everyone related to being an outcast at one point in their life, and like the son in the parable who spent his father’s wealth only to dine with pigs was welcomed in by the Father running to them?
Hospitality is this picture. Everyone is an outcast. You have been one, I have been one. God sees his creation and knows those who least deserve it will see salvation. A salvation wrapped around Jesus, which points to the glory of God is unadulterated beauty. This is a feast everyone is welcomed into. Jesus came not to “call the righteous but sinners toward repentance.” It is what makes genuine hospitality so appealing:
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.”
His feasting table is not a caste system, not a social status to climb or a bank account to fill. He pulls out the fatted calf, he turns the water to wine, he goes down to Skid Row to welcome the prostitute and says, “Child, you are welcome to my feast as you are.” He heads to the Fat Cat Capitalists with their moneybags, “Child, your money is not needed, just you are welcome to the feast.” He knocks on the mother’s door laden with guilt by the milk crusted table, food smeared walls and opening the door just after she yelled at her kids, he says, “My child, you are welcome to my feast. No need to get out of those pajamas.”
“On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.”
This is the God I serve, and he serves me with that scandalous grace. He prepares a table wafting with aromas of star anise, beef, tomatoes, red wine stewing in a dutch oven. He looks the tired cashier in the eye and says, “How is your day?” He welcomes the child into his lap and reads that same book for the 100th time. He visits the elderly who has no one to listen to them. He gives hope to the prisoner who has none in sight. His hospitality is a table that all are welcome at. He welcomes you and you in return welcome others.
It can be your actual table, or your proverbial table. It’s wherever you find yourself. It’s the teacher & administration at your child’s school. It’s your husband and children. It’s your in-laws and family. It’s the clerk, the cashier, the doorkeeper, the cab driver, the homeless person asking for money.
The pervading power of loving kindness is hospitality.
You do not need to be a skilled home keeper or culinary extraordinaire. What you do need is a hospitable heart of loving kindness. When you walk into my home, I can serve up the best meal your tastebuds experienced, but if I neglect the platter of loving kindness, all you will taste is bitterness.
By offering hospitality, you are pointing towards the everlasting feast Jesus the host, is preparing for all humanity.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!