Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Of Culture and Hospitality
My nephew's comment to his Dad? "Wow, they came out to say good-bye. In America they sent us out the door and shut it on us once we were out".
I've been thinking, pondering and grappling with this for a few days now. I am fascinated by such a small but significant difference in the culture of hospitality. I am swivelling, in my mind, between what the Bible tells us about offering hospitality and what it looks like 'on the ground'. Believers are encouraged to offer and practise hospitality. It is one way we can care for each other's needs. We show our love for one another as a tangible action that blesses others richly. It is also a way that we serve one another.
I always come away blessed when we have been invited to share a meal in a friend's home. There is nothing more delicious than a meal, whether it be toasted cheese sandwiches or a three course dinner party, that has been prepared by someone else with us in mind. The fact that they have given of their time and resources is the blessing. It looks like food on the table but there is a far deeper blessing at work.
Those final moments together, however, seem as important to me as the way guests are greeted when they arrive and the meal and the company that is enjoyed throughout the visit. It's like the dessert at the end of a meal. That final taste that leaves a sweet and lasting impression of friendship. As I think back, I have fond memories of being waved off. That feeling that those last moments are as important as all the moments that have been shared throughout the visit.
We will continue to wave our guests off from the end of the verandah, or the driveway, because it's what we've always done. And I think, for the most part, it is what Aussies do. But I will do it with a greater appreciation, now, for what it says to our guests. It is the final moment for blessing those who visit our home.