Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hospitality - A Holy Week Discipline

I heard an interesting sermon on Monday.  No I wasn't at church when I heard it.  It wasn't from a preacher either.  It was from this very blond, very white, very young, FFA (Future Farmers of America) leader.  If you know me, or have read my blogs, in particular Storehouses of Snow, you know that I am usually not too excited when I have to go to FFA, 4-H, Fairs, Achievement Days, Farm Bureau Events, and the like.  As we pulled up to see the sea of blue jackets, I remembered when I first saw those jackets at Hickman High School.  When I was a kid, there were no FFA Chapters in Brooklyn that I was aware of - this was new.  I would laugh at the Aggies.

Later my husband would teach Vo-Ag.  Those blue jackets took his time and attention. He'd leave me for long trips to the State Fair, State Conventions, and the Annual National Convention that always fell on my birthday.  I don't have a long love affair with FFA. FFA, 4-H and the like have always interfered with my life and happiness even though it has been our bread and butter.  As a good wife, I go with him when I can.  This event on Monday had no cows or smelly barns.  My husband was to be given an award.  I am proud of him.  As hard as it is for a girl from Brooklyn, imagine coming from a different country and culture and teaching Aggies.

This blond in blue spoke to her peers and those assembled about practicing your values.  She told a story of bullying and name calling.  She didn't participate but she didn't defend.  Her core value was challenged in elementary school as she realized because she didn't defend and speak up, she too was guilty.  As she spoke, I tossed the message aside.  Oh she was right - but I also thought how young and idealistic she was.  I thought "wait until life beats you up."  It beats up everyone.

Today I am thinking again about her message.  I realize that her sermon was for me.  I am preparing for a visit.  My brother-in-law is coming to visit with us for a few days or weeks.  I like my husband's family.  They may not realize it because I often succumb to resentment.  Everything in my life changes when someone comes.  We will eat different.  While I scrounge around for some American leftovers, I'll fix curried dishes until my house smells like an Indian restaurant.  I'll dress differently.  I will be careful concerning my attire and be unable to come in my PJ's to drink coffee in the morning lest my brother-in-law see me.  I'll wonder whether it is more rude for me to sit and stare at the wall as Saraiki is spoken or leave and watch TV alone in my room.  Yes, everything will change.

And it's Holy Week!  What bad timing is that? Or is it?  I talk a lot about love of God, love of neighbor.  I say my core values include love those that are different - loving the other.  I believe that hospitality is a Christian virtue.  I'm feeling challenged to be like Jesus during Holy Week.  I'm feeling challenged to put my values into practice.

As I prayed this morning, I could sense the Holy Spirit nudging me.  I was reminded of practicing your values.  I was reminded that Jesus' life was one of loving the "other."  As I thought of the coming Passover season, I thought of the passage at the heart of the Holiness Code:
Leviticus 19:33-34
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
All this is easier said that done.  I've tried to be hospitable for my husband before.  I've tried because it is the right thing to do before.  I've failed every time.  Today, I'm offering this up to Jesus.  I'm going to do it because of and for Jesus. I am going to do it because Jesus asks me to live my faith in actions - 

James 2:20-24
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?  Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.  You see that people are justified by what they do and not by faith alone. 
So when I'm feeling that I want to run into the bathroom in frustration and cry my eyes out, I pray God will give me the grace I need.  I will, with God's grace, offer hospitality as part of my spiritual worship during this Holiest of Weeks.  My sacrifice is nothing compared to that of my Lord who offers me the hospitality of life, grace, hope, and salvation as I commune and partake of Him at His Table.


  1. What a challenging blog! I will be praying for you as you step up to this challenge! MJB

  2. Joyce...
    What a lesson this young girl imparted...what a challenge for you to be able to emulate the Love of Jesus in your midst.
    It is one of those challenges that the Lord puts before do for others...and they may or may not even notice...but YOU will know.
    It is really a beautiful picture of God's sacrificial love.
    Thank you for your honesty as we all are challenged in way that may be quite different from yours, but we too are offered the opportunity to go beyond what we, in our own strength, could never do.
    Praying for you, as you lean hard on the Holy Spirit to guide and lead you step by step and day after day


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