A House, Hospitality, and Honor

Photo: Janet Peterson

My Daily Word for today is Hospitality. It’s also the one year anniversary of my parents buying this house for my brother as he was transitioning through a divorce. A year later, I’m contemplating hospitality in a house we purchased from my parents and all I’m left with from my brother are memories by which to honor him. It’s been a tough year full of transitions and lots of hospitality.

There’s a classic hospitality passage in the Bible:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. ~ Hebrews 12:2

Hospitality is an ancient cultural norm that has lost most of its heritage, at least in this country. Ironically, hospitality was an important part of the survival of the Mayflower newcomers, the pioneers of the frontier in the westward expansion, and those riding the rails looking for work during the Depression. Sharing food, providing shelter, taking in strangers while they healed was all a part of what was expected of any decent person.

Hospitality is also a central theme that runs from the very first book – Genesis -through the very last book – Revelation – in the Bible. A thorough study of hospitality is beyond the scope of this blog post, but suffice it to say it is right up there with loving your neighbor. In fact, it is wrapped up in, and as essential as, loving your neighbor because part of the Greek word for hospitality (philoxenia) is the word stranger (xenia; and where we get xenophobia). God has always been big on a stranger as a friend not yet met.

While modern day hospitality may look more like a social get together among friends, sometimes it is family just gathering together to heal. That’s what a lot of our hospitality has been this year: my family gathering together for birthdays and holidays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and any other occasion that presents itself. Our house is the hub and my brother Vic has drawn us together, even though this is not longer his house and he is no longer with us.

Even though this was his house, he really didn’t have much of anything of his in it. My sister’s living room furniture is still here from when they moved it for him to use. Some of the cast off furniture his friends gave him is still here. The few items of his that he did have when he separated went back to the family home. He wasn’t here long enough to truly make it his own home.

Sam and I moved here from Texas and we didn’t bring much with us. We haven’t yet made this our home, partly for financial reasons and partly because of something deeper, I’m sure. Yet, we are glad to house and feed family who come. We’re really looking forward to the end of November when we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving, my son’s birthday, our granddaughter’s birthday, and my mother’s birthday.

And then we will face the anniversary of my brother’s death. My sister and I are already talking about it, but being aware of what’s coming never really prepares you for what will be. I’m sure we’ll all be wrecks as we go through it together.

The quote I selected for hospitality in the Daily Word is a Jewish proverb:

Hospitality is one form of worship.

Hospitality, like worship, gathers humanity together to be feed, to be sheltered, and to heal. When we do, we honor each other and the God whose love is poured out for all of us, bringing strangers together as family.

4 Replies to “A House, Hospitality, and Honor”

  1. Ok so this caughte totally by surprise when j was reading it on my lunch break at work and I wanted to cry. I would not be where I am today if it was not for the hospitality of Linda and Sam thru the long winter months after Vic was gone. Though they were my greatest support , I do hope, at least in some all way, I may have been a support to them as well. Having my brother’s( now Linda and sam’s ) house as the hub of family activity truly does seem appropriate. Though Vic is no longer here – the tragedy around our loss of him has brought us that much closer together as a family. Though his children do not choose to participate in activities at Linda and SAMs , or with the family in general, Vic’s family of origin is bound together stronger than ever by the emptiness he once so boisterously filled.

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