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The Essence of Hospitality by Jaci Mun-Gavin

It was a busy day at home when the message came through. I was up to my elbows in the grimiest of housework, cleaning out dishwasher filters and unblocking drains. The children were scattered around the house, having done their share of laundry and sweeping, trying to catch up on schoolwork. It was a day of chores and lists and responsibilities, and there was nothing in the schedule about time off.


How about a spontaneous lunch at the Capell’s?” it read.


And instantly, I knew we’d be all in. I called out the offer loud enough for the children to hear, washing my hands and pulling back my hair. By the time my husband arrived home a few minutes later, every woman and child of us was ready to jump in the car.


Now let me just zoom out to give you an idea of why that was an interesting response. First up, our kids range from nine to nineteen. The Capell’s kids are older, most of them married and out of home. Our children were not forced to come: they are independent and busy; there are no kids there to play with; our teens have their own social circles; our eldest has a job with deadlines.


So why did we all jump at the opportunity to go to their home in the midst of a busy day? Was it simply to escape? Was it the food that would be served? The beauty of their home? It was none of these things, really, but something far simpler: it was the way they make us feel.


It begs the question, what is hospitality? What is generosity? What is it that makes people drop everything to be in your presence, and want to come back at any opportunity?


With this particular family, it’s the way they greet us at the door, the thoughtful interactions throughout our visit, and the way they listen attentively when we speak. Our nine-year-old gets the same invested interest when he’s telling the story of taking his first wicket that any of us receive. My husband and I leave feeling that they not only see us but they see our little people. Our older children feel like they are welcomed as friends and equals. It really is a beautiful thing.


Some people are gifted in hospitality, it’s true. When they serve a glass of water you feel like you’re at the Ritz. It’s just like some people are romantic and some just aren’t. Right?


Maybe… But maybe romance and hospitality are simpler than we think. Not easy—not at all. But simple? Yes!


What is romance but a series of thoughtful gestures? A habit of listening when people speak; taking note of their favourite things; of spending time thinking about making them feel special. Romance is found in unexpected places when you know what to look for. It’s the man who drives over to our house to drop off some homemade chilli sauce during Lockdown so that my husband knows his mate is thinking of him. It’s the friend who buys those chewy, dark chocolate Lindt balls I love when she sees them discounted at a clearance store. It’s the wife who puts toothpaste on her husband’s toothbrush when she knows he’s a few minutes behind her in getting ready for bed.

And hospitality is just the same. It’s not the perfect table setting and the fancy meal, or the ideal house that looks unlived-in. But perhaps it is the time taken to prepare for someone’s presence, or even the willingness to throw open your doors and heart when someone arrives totally unexpectedly. Maybe it’s about preparing your life to welcome friends before it’s about preparing your home to welcome guests.


Hospitality has nothing to do with a perfect home, but it has everything to do with perfect love—with love that drives out fear, and coaxes open hearts; love that sees people through the eyes of grace and let’s them feel that for one brief moment, as they rest in your presence, they are seen and accepted for who they are.


Love, Jaci


Women of Reverence welcomes guest blogger Jaci Mun-Gavin

Jaci Mun-Gavin is a writer and teacher who is passionate about leading herself and others into a life of freedom and intimacy with God. She and her husband, Richard make their home in Durban, where they live with their seven children and serve as leaders in the community of Anthem Church. When asked about what she wants most, Jaci answers, “Freedom. Freedom from old patterns, from expectations, comparisons and societal restrictions. The cry of my heart is, ‘Set my people free!’ And ‘my people’ includes any man, woman or child who is not yet free to live in the fullness that Jesus has won for them.” Her books, blogs and podcast are available on jacimungavin.com and you can follow her on Instagram @jacimg and Facebook @jacimungavin1.

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