Last night a friend invited us over for the evening meal. She had hardly slept a wink the night before because the power had been off all night (thankfully, while it had gone off and on in the night, it wasn't off all night at our house). Then she worked all day and came home around 4:30 p.m. to fix dinner for us. Around 6:30 the power went off again and stayed off throughout the evening. It was probably 95 degrees in her apartment and we were all sweating profusely. A friend who is doing a one month refresher course at a nearby school dropped in and she joined us for dinner. I thought I'd take a picture of us sharing a meal, but it was too dark! The power did finally come on right before we left (but they said it went off again in the night and they had a second sleepless night).
This is a perfect example of true hospitality. Our friend went on with the meal in spite of cooking in less than ideal conditions. She laughed and joked about eating by flashlight. And in the midst of the darkness and sweat she invited in an unexpected guest.
Hospitality comes more naturally to some than to others. I wouldn't say it's natural to me, but I've learned to do it with a minimum amount of stress and to enjoy having extra people around the table. It's a good thing, too, because in my job new people are constantly arriving, so we have guests often.
I think hospitality is something we don't do as much of as people used to. When I was growing up and our family was on furlough, we always stayed in somebody's home when my dad preached and we always had a home-cooked meal with the pastor or a church member. Now, and this isn't a criticism, as often as not, we get put up in a hotel room and somebody takes us out to dinner.
I just want to encourage you to not use excuses such as "I'm too tired", "My house is a mess", "I work all day", "It costs too much to have guests", "I will have to create yet another meal ex-nihilo", or "I don't know what I'd say" to stop you from having guests. I've thought all of those things and could use all of them as an excuse. Believe me, after working an 8-hour day (or longer) when it's 100 degrees out and the power is off, it would be easy enough to say I can't do it. But there's something about sitting around a table and sharing a meal together that unites you as friends and draws you closer together. The best conversations take place around the table.
Our African brothers and sisters have so much to teach us about hospitality. They just always cook extra food assuming somebody will stop by at meal time. It's not unusual to find out-of-town guests staying with them, sometimes for weeks at a time. Even the very poor will at least bring you a glass of water or a bowl of porridge when you visit.
I Peter 4:9 -- Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
Hebrews 13:2 -- Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.