Creative Ways to Be Hospitable When You Can't Physically Meet
My favorite gift God has given me is a heart for hospitality, something that was ingrained in me as a small child watching my grandmother just love on people so well. I get energy from being around people and being able to break bread together. It just fills my heart up that God has created us to be in community. I didn’t really appreciate Christian community until I was much older, and to be honest, I had no idea what I was missing out on. When I finally became a member of a church full of people that I just love, it became evident to me that this was something I needed in my life and that God knew I would need encouragement and prayer warriors to go through this life with. God has always placed people in my life to remind me who He is, giving me mentors and good people that point me to Him. When I finally realized God gave me a passion for people and for cultivating deep relationships, I was just so thankful He opened my eyes to that and wanted to really fulfill that purpose.
I soon realized that we can’t always have people in our homes. Sometimes schedules and life tend to get in the way… it’s not like you don’t want to see or talk to people, it just gets busy. I started praying and asking God to show me ways that I can still be hospitable, even when we can’t physically be together. Jesus talks about breaking bread and the importance of gathering around a table, but He also tells us to love our neighbors unconditionally. Sometimes we just have to get creative on ways to connect with people in this ever-changing world.
One of my favorite things to do is make meals or treats for people, and though I may not always be able to share it with them in person, I can make someone’s day by dropping a meal, a treat, or a card off to let them know I’m thinking of them.
I also love being able to participate in meal trains at church! We do them when people have babies or surgeries or are just feeling under the weather and could use a blessing. I like to bake a few kinds of cookies, fill up some disposable containers and deliver them to my small group members or neighbors. I also like to write them a card, encouraging their heart and hopefully delivering a smile in the process. Who doesn’t like to get fresh baked cookies and a note from a friend to brighten their day?
Another way I have found that is impactful is sharing a text with a friend - just writing out a prayer about how much I appreciate and love them. I love being able to share with them the words that I am praying over them so they can just feel God’s love through me. A friend of mine had done that a few years ago and it made me cry to read her kind words… It’s a practice that I wanted to not only reciprocate to her, but to anyone around me who needed encouragement. I’m always telling people I will pray for them and I sure don’t want to forget (though unfortunately I do sometimes!), but it seems to just get such a great response when they get to read the prayer - to God be the glory for that!
I keep a notebook on my desk where I can jot down people’s prayer requests or notes about if they say something in passing and I want to make sure and pray for it. A coworker and I have a standing meeting, every Tuesday morning where we get on a call and pray together. We each keep our own list and it’s so nice to see answered prayers or just watch God moving in our lives and the lives of those we care about. I used to be afraid to pray out loud. A wonderful friend shared with me that it’s okay. She reminded me I was just talking to God, and it didn’t matter what people thought because we all pray differently. I may not always have the most eloquent words, but I can lay each request at the feet of Jesus, He knows what is needed even more so than I do. I’m so thankful He can carry our burdens and that we can go to our friends, carry their burdens and pray with them, and they can carry ours. Jesus knew how much we needed each other and He was so willing to go where people were and serve them there.
I encourage you to put a date on the calendar with a friend or loved one once a month. Make a phone call or drop by and say hello with a fun little treat. Even if you can’t physically get together, talking with the other person and just connecting warms both of your hearts. If you aren’t able to make time for a call, a text with a word of encouragement, a Bible verse that God has been laying on your heart lately, or even just a quick hello with a smiley face lets them know you’re thinking about them.
I am just in awe that He continues to work through me even though hospitality can look different for everyone. I pray this will give you ideas on how to love others where they are, to serve one another with gladness, and for His glory to shine through. God calls us to love unapologetically, that we are to be free to do His work here on earth. Galatians 5:13 says You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Think of the elderly neighbor down the street - a little card saying hello and that they are being prayed is a simple gesture, but one that is sure to just touch their heart and help them feel God’s love in a way that they needed at that moment.
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