Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who's coming over today, Mom?

I grew up with people coming over. Eating together. Sleeping in freshly laundered beds. It was called home hospitality, and it was integral to our lives as a family.

Usually we had breakfast together, depending on who was up or leaving at the same time. Dad got up early, and before he left the house, would read the Bible, kneel and pray. Whoever was in the kitchen sat down to listen to his speed-reading and prayed a prayer after his. We liked Dad's devotions: he was quick, to the point, and rarely commented beyond the occasional, "hmm" as he was putting the Bible back in the drawer.

Lunch and supper often included guests, especially on Sundays. Mom, a great cook and baker, and a gracious hostess, invited people, talking in the church foyer. She called them in advance if it was going to be a production.

The house was always neat, thanks to German values of tidiness and CLEANliness. You couldn't just pick up things and put them away. Mom's floors were washed or vacuumed at least weekly, the surfaces dusted, and the kitchen spotless down to the chair legs. No matter who dropped by, Mom warmly welcomed them inside, serving coffee and cake or cookies between meals. Or she'd say, "Can you stay for supper? We would love your company."

Mom and Dad admit they influenced more people around the table than in various boardrooms. We children learned to be comfortable with men, women, and children. With the poor, the influencers, the wealthy, strangers, and relatives. That egalitarianism was one of their biggest gifts, bringing confidence to us siblings: we're equally at ease with presidents, ministers, academics, laborers,  and the homeless.

To this day, our view of "everyone is someone" can get us in trouble with the haughty, those who expect people's adulation because of a job title or past accomplishments. (Actually, we are proud of those who earn titles and positions. Good for you! We admire ambition and hard work, used for God's glory.) We shrug off the "rude in authority," with a, "Yeah, we respect you, just like everyone else."

People deserve human not god-like relationships, regardless of their position." My respect plunges toward those in power who disrespect their subordinates or humiliate the powerless with "humorous" or cutting remarks. Jesus rebuked those who put others down, and brought into his own circle those others looked down on. Scripture forbids us to be intimidated by others (see verses below). Enough said.

Because my parents' house was guest-ready, missionaries, relatives, and friends who came through town often stayed with us. When they left, Mom stripped the beds, cleaned the rooms, and restored order; soon she was set for the next person or group. (She's still doing that in her 70s! Company still shows up for meals and sleepovers.)

Hospitality is both a gift and an education. By the time I married, I knew how to run a home with people coming and going. My parents gave me 12 place settings of china, monogrammed servingware, and tablecloths. We invited college peers to our crummy little apartment, eating off paper plates or Royal Doulton, depending on the mood or time for prep.

Over the next few years, I expanded my cooking and baking skills. I cooked my first turkey dinner for a 12 member pastoral staff. "If anyone has to forgive what I am about to do to this bird, Lord, it will be them."

It turned out just fine, thanks to a few calls to my mom, "How do I cook a turkey, Mom? Oh, I have to start thawing today? But lunch isn't until Tuesday!" My mother = hostess lifesaver.

I'm considering hosting a hospitality class when my dissertation is over. Oodles of our acquaintances and friends don't have people over because they don't know how. They've never hosted a Christmas dinner or a Saturday brunch. They'd be terrified to have an out-of-town family drop by their front door for a meal and warm bed. They might not even be comfortable going to someone else's house.

Let me know if you're a gal or guy who'd be interested in attending 3-4 sessions of hostess training (hands-on training where you eat the rewards). Some of our friends are amazing hosts and would be great guest-teachers. We'd cover food costs and collect a donation from each person for a charity that distributes food. You'd learn how to present an easy-to-prepare meal and leave with great ideas for making people welcome in your home. (How about just before summer or in the fall?)

Read more:
*Psalm 147:7-14; Zechariah 6,7; Revelation 19:1-8

*You must not be partial in judging: hear out the small and the great
alike; you shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. Deuteronomy 1:17

*Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. People curse those who hoard their grain, but they bless the one who sells in time of need. Proverbs 11:24–26 NLT

*Jesus took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his
arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Mark 9:36-37

Moravian Prayer: Holy One, may we see your face in every stranger. Holding true that we are all created in your image, may we closely embrace each other despite our differences. Amen.


  1. Do it Rosemarie! Do it! I'll come and bring friends! :)

  2. I would love to come to something like this! Though my schedule gets pretty busy at times. I will invite people as well! :)

  3. Love your article. My wonderful mother is in her mid 70's and still has guests for dinner or overnight! Friends, relatives, missionaries and stangers (when she had a bed and breakfast). Some of the strangers became friends. She did a great job of teaching her daughters to hostess and all our lives are richer for the pleasure we bring to others and friendship they bring to us. THere is nothing like sharing a meal in your home to cement the bonds! So sad it's becoming a lost art. Great idea to teach others Rosemarie! Ruth Krampitz

  4. I remember your mom as a great hostess. Say hi, ok, Ruth?

  5. Great Rosemarie. Hospitality like this is a lost art to is such a great door opener! I love it....Glad my husband and I both grew up with this kind of service....hopefully can pass it on as well....even if not in a formal style like you. You're do really well. Blessings to you. glenda

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