I talked about this potential church library book at the book club meeting last night. I have been so challenged by this book and can't stop thinking about it. Mrs. Mains is a pastor's wife with years of experience opening her home to their community and congregation. I expected a list of tips on time management and flower arranging and serving coffee. Not a bit. Rather, Mrs. Mains gets to the meat of the matter and looks at what real hospitality is, and how Christian hospitality has the power to minister in this broken world. This book is really a "why" and not a "how-to" guide. Here are some of the ideas from the book that have been kicking around in my brain...
- Entertaining is about me and my things. Hospitality is about service to others.
- Hospitality is a gift from the Holy Spirit. One that not everyone has to the same extent, but one that we should all aspire to.
- The gift of hospitality should be used for ministry.
- Hospitality is hindered by PRIDE (I want everyone to think that I'm perfect) and SELFISHNESS (These are my things and this is my time).
- Show hospitality to your own family first, but not exclusively. Treat your husband and children like friends who are welcome in your home. Then, widen the circle: your children's friends, your friends and their children, your church community, your neighbourhood, then strangers throughout the world.
- Be genuinely welcoming.
- Create a sense of family: immediate, then extended, then church family.
- Open your home to welcome those around you.
- Open your church to welcome those in your community.
- Pray for those around you in that same widening circle.
- 'Hospitality' is found between 'hospice" and 'hospital'. Christian homes should be places of shelter and healing.
- Hospitality requires that you be a good steward of your possessions and your time.
- Find shortcuts that allow you to open your home more often and to more people. KM's 5 rules: Never clean before company (clean after they leave). Don't be afraid to do things with flair. Do as much ahead of time as possible. Clean as you go. Use all the help that comes your way.
- Hospitality requires creativity and simplicity.
- Hospitality requires flexibility. Etiquette is nothing more than making the other person feel at ease.
- If every Christian family opened their home to just one person, each and every year, we could transform the society that we live in by bringing Christ's love to the world one person at a time.
What do YOU think? Karen Mains is not scared to call all those excuses that we offer "SIN" and she really forces you to prayerfully examine your life and your home to see how Christ can be served in Open Homes by Open Hearts. She stresses repeatedly that if we try to do this all on the strength of our human efforts, we are doomed to failure. Rather, we need to work and pray.
Although this book was orginally written in the 1970's (reference to shag carpetting included), her message is current and urgent still today. I'm not sure that her theology (especially about the work of the Holy Spirit) is all straight, and she used the word "supernatural" in so many ways that I'm not really sure what she means by it anymore. This book is definitely not 100% Reformed, but there is no doubt that it provides a challenging view on hospitality that all Christians could certainly benefit from taking the time to consider.