Have you ever been to a "Sabbath House"? Might you ever provide rest for others in your very own home? Read on as Beth Hornbeck shares how she learned to practice hospitality.
By Beth Hornbeck
When we were newly married, my husband and I would escape the confines of our little one-bedroom apartment to stretch our legs and imaginations by walking around our new town. We loved the mix of houses: Victorian and contemporary, bungalow and sprawling ranch style. We would dream about our future home and garden as we looked around.
One day we saw a "for sale" sign on our favorite street; we hoped that it would be a small fixer-upper cottage full of potential and priced at a steal! As we walked down the driveway to a subdivided lot, we were disappointed to see a brand-new home. The owner, Mr. Tucker, lived next door and was eager to show off his project. He was a delightful elderly gentleman (well, he was probably close to my age now, but he seemed very old to us at the time!). He walked us through the house, pointing out all its features and then invited us next door to meet his wife. Conversation flowed freely, they asked us to dinner and to attend church on Sunday. As we parted, he said, "Even if you're not interested in the house, consider us your grandparents away from home."
We walked back down the driveway talking more about the Tuckers and the gift of welcome and warmth than the house for sale. However, over the next days we did talk about the house and realized if we could come up with the down payment, borrowing from parents, we might be able to swing it.
We called the Tuckers and were once again overwhelmed by their response. "It's not often we get to choose our neighbors, and we'd love for you to live next door. We'd like to help by financing the house for you." We were shocked; family and friends were skeptical! As we walked through each step of the process, the Tuckers reminded us of God's presence and provision, in their own lives and now in ours.
When we moved in, they reminded us that God had supplied this opportunity and they invited us to always use this home for him. I can remember nodding my head emphatically, "Yes, yes! I certainly will!"
We hosted youth group game nights, my husband's college classmates, traveling choirs, friends, family and strangers. A friend even lived in his trailer on the driveway one summer. The Tuckers continued to model hospitality; they regularly invited us in for dinners, card games, and everyday life.
It's been many years since we lived in that house, moving on to other houses and towns. Because of the Tuckers' example of hospitality, we continue to set more plates around the table, make a bed up in the guest room for a night, week or more, or even pitch tents when all beds, couches and floor space are full.
I don't believe I have the gift of hospitality: My cooking skills are mediocre; I'd fail the white glove dust test; I don't excel at bedside gift baskets and can't sculpt a hand towel into an elephant. But I do believe in the practice of hospitality - I've come to understand that for me, hospitality is a spiritual discipline.
Our current home has its own story of God's blessing and challenge. We have frequent visits by friends, family and strangers. Through "Sabbath House," as it's called by some of our guests, God continues to teach us to welcome and love those who walk through our doors and practice the discipline of hospitality.
Beth Hornbeck is a retired occupational therapist and youth pastor. She stocks a freakish number of paper napkins in the pantry, suitable for any occasion or celebration! She and her husband jokingly say they run a bed and breakfast in their northern California home.