In jostling crowds we can steady the arm of that elderly person for whom there is no concern. We can comfort that strange child in the store whose “mommy got lost.” We can listen to the middle-aged woman who insists on talking during the entire train trip. We can reassure the stranger frightened about the wrong bus schedule.
This created world is a vast hostel in which we can practice hospitality and courtesy and openness. It is indeed the world which God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
1. Make a study of the Gospels to determine how often Christ asked questions in His conversations.
2. Test a week of your private conversations, as follows:
a) How much of what you say is “me-me-me”?
b) How much is “you-you-you”?
c) Do you discuss the same topics over and over? Or, are you able to participate in a variety of subjects?
d) How much initiation in conversation is because of your efforts? Or, do you wait until someone attempts to put you at ease?
e) What is the basic topic of your talks? People? Purchases and things you own or want to own? Ideas and events? The realm of the spiritual?
3. Ask yourself how many levels of listening occur in your life. Are you listening at all, or only thinking of what you want to say next?
4. Set aside several times this week to listen to God. Place your notebook nearby and record in it what He says to you.
Lord, thank you for having given Yourself in intimate,
You have been the Host to all creation.
Without a dwelling, You have contained the
whole world and habited Yourself in the winds,
the corners, and the depths, inviting us to be
at home with You. Beneath the shadow of Your
wing You bid us hide, and in the depths of Your
Being You shelter and refuge us.
Without meat You have nourished us.
Without beverage You have refreshed us.
By Your very Word came sustenance.
On bread and water without price have we been fed.
You have been manna in the wilderness of our lives.
Without a table You have banqueted us,
inviting us, yea, to be married unto You.
Over our heads flies the banner of Your love.
We are entertained with the mysteries of faith,
the songs of the Spirit, holy laughter.
You have garmented us in festal righteousness.
As we wandered in wastelands,
You sought us before we called.
You extended eager welcome
though we had scarcely knocked.
You embraced us when we were filthy
and oppressed and undeserving.
You are the Samaritan who passes not by,
Who finds lodging for us in the warm inns by the way.
You bake fish over coals, waiting for us,
though we have forgotten to wait for ‘You.
With broken hands You break the loaf of blessing.
Those same wounds caress our leprous spirits.
You do not fear to openly accept the intimate worship
of our harlot hearts.
You are the Host of all mankind.
Lifted up, suffering, without breath,
You yet extend greeting to all the masses,
“Come unto me…
You give us the mystery of Your presence
in this supper of the ages, this remembrance of
Your ultimate hospitality
Make my hospitality as unto Yours.
Be forever my archetype of endeavor,
My firstfruit of harvested goodness:
Love for the battered, misused child,
Grace to bind running ulcers of flesh and soul,
Eagerness for the wealthy without servility,
And for the poor without superiority.
Through eternity You have been and will be
poor, faltering, unfeeling me,
to be like You,
with breath-beat and soul-heart
to be given to hospitality.
For decades, Karen Mains and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Karen has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This microfinance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
In addition, pastors will find special resources to help them create effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.