Sunday, February 16, 2020

That Sunday Thing

This is a story which goes back to my Sunday school teacher when I was a child at our home church in Springfield, OR. Kathy and Chuck were college friends of my parents. I can't remember a time when Chuck and Kathy were not a part of my life.

In addition to supervising our Sunday School department in my growing up years, Kathy ran a Children's Release club which she STILL RUNS.... she canned, gardened, baked bread, and excelled at hospitality.

Every Sunday Kathy cooked a big Sunday meal. At church she and Chuck invited people over. Some of my favorite memories are from around her table. They've lived in the same home for decades and it's not a big home. Her yard and garden are magical. Her home has been a welcome refuge for many over the years.

I grew up and got married. I did not have the gift of hospitality. HOWEVER, God began to talk to me about the role of Biblical hospitality/community/relationship in fulfilling the "Great Commission." He showed me how His heart is to move strangers into His family. He did it for me. I can mirror his heart through hospitality. In short, I learned hospitality is a command; not a gift.

Our ministry has always been "relational," but hospitality requires something of us....First, humility if one doesn't happen to be a stellar cook or home decorator. ::Snort::  Seriously, our homes are our place of sanctuary and rest. It took a bit for me to step out and begin to serve in my place of rest. 

For a time Michael and I had people over after church every Sunday evening. There has been times we've had people over most Friday nights.

After Michael retired we spent seven months in my hometown while Mom was going through cancer treatment and Michael was being seen at the VA clinic.  Once again we benefited from Kathy's hospitality. All these years later she is still having people over every week. I am convinced her invites are the only one some get. I know her's was the only invite offered to our family.

We began to talk about having people over every week after church. Our first year up here we had our children over most Sundays. Our home was very full and having many extras over seemed daunting. Of course, we didn't know many people outside of family.

For the past six or seven months we've been grabbing young adults to go out with us after church on Sundays. It's been a blast to have Krista home....we've enjoyed Sunday lunches...but we began to suspect  it would be budget friendly and lead to greater friendship and fun if we moved some of the lunches to our home.

We've hosted a life group for the past two years and we've invited people over...but the "Sunday thing" stayed in our minds.  Honestly, Sundays are a REST day for us. I didn't want to have to work hard Saturday preparing for Sunday. I wanted to and I didn't want's that? The more Stacia and I talked about relationships and the role hospitality can play in living "wide awake and fully present," the more I began to sense it was a God call and it was simply time.

We talked as a family and  agreed to start slowly with simply opening our home 2 Sundays a month. We wanted anyone to feel welcome to come: family, friends, church family, church visitors. We didn't want it to be a potluck as we didn't want others to be too burned out to come "fellowship."  Kathy and Chuck invited a family or two at a time...but we weren't sure WHO to invite...and so we simply invited everyone....and told them to invite anyone they thought would enjoy coming over.

Our thought has been maybe I'd fix something on one week and the other would be some sort of themed potluck....but always with all knowing to invite visitors or whoever to join us..... Honestly, I am going to need ideas. LOL

Our first invite was posted on Facebook, I passed out invites to ones I knew weren't on my Facebook. We cooked soups, made salads and desserts, and waited to see what would happen. There was a bit of rearranging of rooms and cleaning involved too.
Caitlyn, Pastor, Britney, Merritt, Nolan, Josiah, Brittany
Stacia, Sandy Allie, Jessie, Krista

We had thirty-three people show up. The house was big enough to easily handle the crowd. There was more than enough food. People ate upstairs and downstairs. 

Games began downstairs...while others visited upstairs. I've never played Nertz and I didn't make it downstairs.

People came when they could break away from church...some came after church at another church, Arielle and Benny dropped in, and my personal favorite was the young man who showed up - invited by another young man. I LOVED IT.  We met him as he was leaving with the last group. 

Some ate and had to run home to pets or other activities. Some stayed and played games an hour or two...several stayed until 7:30 p.m. The time flew by. We ate, talked, and laughed together - and it was good.
Benny got my phone and took about 50 photos of Britney
and Allie...and his foot. LOL 

Our plan is to open our home the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. We know numbers will fluctuate. We will be flexible with other things going on....but we will keep striving to have people over - often. Community is worth the effort.

We continue to try different things with our neighbors...and they are slow to respond....but this we can do.

Looking at March...the first Sunday is our church's annual business meeting. We thought of doing the 3rd and 5th Sundays, but then we heard one man who works away for weeks will be home the 22nd... We are going to have one lunch in March on the 22nd. We are combining suggestions from a couple of folks....

I'm contemplating taking down the Christmas decor before our next Sunday Shindig.