It’s been seven months since we have been practicing social distancing and adjusting and re-adjusting to the social guidelines coinciding with our regions. While the desire to return back to normal interaction with each other is quite strong, we still do not know when social distancing will end. Because of this, we need to continually and intentionally re-evaluate how we are living our lives in our new contexts—and how we can be in each other’s lives during a time where we all crave connection and fellowship.
Now, more than ever, Christians need to heed the call to practise biblical hospitality. Hebrews 13:2 is clear when it says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.” Hospitality is not often convenient, and in a time of great inconvenience and hardship for many, it may require of us less comfort and more creativity. But it is still doable and is still essential. If New Testament believers practiced hospitality amidst intense persecution, then through Christ’s strength we can do it amidst a pandemic.
Here are four ways that could you practice hospitality within your circles and neighbourhood this season:
Host a campfire
While the majority of us are used to practicing hospitality in the confines of our home, perhaps this season is urging us to extend this hospitality to our lawns, porches, and outside spaces. A campfire can be a wonderful way to invite neighbours or new friends from church over for good ol’ fashioned s’mores—or perhaps to try out a new favourite such as bannock bread or pie irons. Pinterest is also chock-full of inspirational campfire meals. For those of us without any outside space, I noticed the other day that the park across from our townhouse permits propane BBQs—so perhaps meeting up at a park with lawn chairs or picnic blankets would be a fun solution to gather for a campfire.
Invite a friend on a walk
A simpler way to extend care and love for a person is to grab some coffee-to-go and invite them on a leisurely walk around the neighbourhood. Perhaps you could even start a walking group where people in the community could connect with one another, get some fresh air, and check in on how each other are doing. It would be a great opportunity to extend an offer of prayer for your neighbours and friends. For those wary about using travel mugs, you can find paper to-go cups and lids from the store that people can take home or dispose of after the walk.
Gift greenery or baked goods
While the chillier weather begins to beckon us back inside our homes, this is a wonderful time to show people we care for them by gifting flowers, candles, house plants, or baked goods. Growing up I still can feel the excitement when neighbours dropped by with plates of homemade cookies, poinsettias, mums, or freshly baked bread. These opportunities would be a wonderful ice breaker to begin a conversation with someone you haven’t officially talked with before. There is often a welcome sensation of warmth and joy when someone goes out of their way to be hospitable—that even kids cherish.
Decorate pumpkins together
A fun activity for people of all ages could be to set up folding tables (or plastic table cloths from Dollerama) on a driveway and invite people over to carve pumpkins or paint pie pumpkins. Children now more than ever are missing out on play dates with friends, and gathering with a small group of kids from the neighbourhood or from your church could be a wonderful opportunity to provide a space for kids to safely visit and play with one another. Painting pumpkins outside would be wonderfully paired with hot cocoa or hot apple cider.
Hospitality is impactful. It leaves an impression. As I look back, I can still vividly remember the elderly couple that welcomed me into their home, the incredible tri-tip steak that a member from church grilled for us, and the gift basket of fruit and chocolate that a fellow sister dropped off during a hospital stay. These small moments are opportunities to share the love of Christ and live out the gospel that we believe and proclaim.
Friends, let’s not forget the call of Christ to welcome and practice hospitality to one another. Not only can He empathize with us as someone who has practised hospitality without a home, but He offers many examples of how to be generous and hospitable. So, in times when evil is so prevalent, let’s not give up spurring one another on to doing good and shining the light of Jesus where we are placed. What are some creative ways you can think of to engage with the people in your life this season?