The Simplicity of Hospitality

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”

A creek winds down a quiet West Virginia hollow on a hot summer afternoon. I sit on an old porch beside a worn out trailer sipping a cup of cheap coffee and snacking on some home canned sausage and peppers. I am a guest here of an elderly woman whose name I have forgotten. We talk of simple things, like the best way to trellis tomatoes and how proud she is of her granddaughter. I have come to fix the old porch, and there is part of me that wants to get back to work. However, she insists that I rest awhile and get out of the heat. There is nothing elaborate about our time together;  there are periods of silence broken only by a bee buzzing past. We simply take sips of coffee and exhale deeply. What I didn’t realize at the time is that she is teaching me what hospitality is, and how it is a critical way that we experience God in one another. 

 Scripture is bursting with examples of hospitality. We see perfect examples from Abraham as well as Martha and Mary. Hospitality at its core is the desire to enter into relationship, to open up our lives and provide comfort to one another on the journey. This mirrors the way in which God desires deep relationship with us, opens himself to us, and provides us a place of rest and comfort when we are weary. One of the key lessons that I learned on that porch in West Virginia is the same one that Jesus helps Martha see. Hospitality is not measured by what we can give but rather whether we are willing to make ourselves present to one another. Without a doubt Abraham did all he could to provide for his guest, but he also makes a point to go join them in their meal. Mary gets the nod of approval from Jesus because she stops preparing and focuses on participating. God gives greatly to us, but what really matters is that when he welcomes us into his embrace, he is completely present to us. It is those moments when we can humble ourselves to be served and fully participate that we can see God in front of us. I pray for the grace to do the same.    

By Danny Patton, former staff member and current board member of Nazareth Farm