I know that I see a ton of great blog posts that address opening your home and serving food as a way of showing Biblical hospitality. There are a lot of verses that support the home as the center of Christian hospitality. (Here is a great resource!) As we just passed Thanksgiving and are getting close to Christmas, I would like to address some other ways of thinking of hospitality.
There are a myriad of reason that people are unable to leave their homes or travel to your home. Some of these people may seem perfectly healthy, but invisible illnesses or social anxiety can contribute to isolation. According to the CDC 1 in 2 American adults suffer from a chronic illness. Not all people are housebound, but sometimes it can be difficult for people to make it to dinner after working, on a bad day, or a flare in symptoms. The CDC says that a quarter of people with chronic illnesses have significant limitations in their daily activities.
I would encourage people who read this to think about their peers, their neighbors, coworkers, and members of their churches. They may be people that you interact with on a daily basis–people who you see every Sunday morning–people you wave to as you go to work. What you might not realize is that attending church on Sunday morning wipes them out for the rest of the day; working a full day is more than they can do without damaging their health; or that you wave to them in the neighborhood, and they really wish that you would be a friend because being sick is very lonely. As I get older, I know that family is so very important, but there is still the 26 year old in me who wants friends. I want girls to laugh with, talk about make up with, and generally have a good time. My “good time,” though, looks a lot different than it did before I got sick. Now a good time is a movie night, not trying to get to three Christmas parties in one night.
I know that when I was in middle school, my Sunday school class would go visit the church members who were homebound; however, there are many people who are much younger that need some extra attention and care. I know that no one purposefully leaves their 20-something friends out, but not every 20-something has the physical capabilities that other people have.
Tips for Hospitality:
+ Be understanding when someone has to cancel at the last minute.
+ If you know someone is sick, offer to bring them food. If they don’t need food, just the offer can bring them a lot of joy because they won’t feel abandoned.
+ Try to plan events that would allow a sick person to be more comfortable. A dinner that is drop in or not on a Friday night would be a good alternative.
+ Ask your friend how you can help them! Maybe they would like a Christmas tree, but decorating the tree might pose a problem. Bringing cookies, sharing some hot chocolate, and decorating a tree would be very fun. They may need help shopping for Christmas gifts, wrapping presents, or even unpacking the Christmas decorations.
+ Meet your friend for coffee/hot chocolate. Sometimes it is nice for a sick person to get out of the house, but they can’t be gone for long. And one on one might be better for some people.
+Think about non-food centered, restful activities:
-Christmas movie night
-Ornament decorating (this allows for sitting down and standing up as needed)
-Assembling gifts for charity (example: Operation Christmas Child, etc.)
-A relaxed game night or afternoon. Something like Apples to Apples or Scategories. Laughing is great medicine. Prolonged strategy games can be too exhausting.
-Anything that is on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon might be easier for people who have a hard time getting up and are exhausted by the evening.
People suffering from chronic illnesses are also likely to be very isolated. So, if someone who is chronically ill has you in their life, they are very blessed. You can easily increase the blessings in their life by being purposeful in showing them hospitality in the season of celebration.