Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Front Porch Hospitality
Front Porch Hospitality
By Brenda Black
Once upon a time, folks used to sit outside on a spring evening and talk. Neighbors knew one another and the front porch was public domain whether you lived in its attached house or two doors down. A swing, a chair, a rail and steps fashioned a gathering place. Often, those who assembled would sing or pick guitars and each one would find their part – on the porch and in the music. That's where harmony was born and that's where harmony flourished.
I was reminded of those Andy Griffith days as I pulled up another chair to join a throng of college kids all sitting serenely in front of my home and postponing their departure back to campus and studies. The social circle concluded a busy and fun weekend filled with sunshine, horseback rides, Easter egg hunts and wonderful worship. I loved their chatter as well as their silent company. Just having them in my home for a couple of days brought life and laughter and loads of singing from this group of co-eds who'd just returned from a choir tour in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Little sleep, rich family recipes and plenty of sweets rendered me sluggish in body. But my soul was at peace, content with the final quiet moments of reflection and camaraderie. There's something melodious in witnessing a group of friends so comfortable with one another. Their friendship seemed as harmonious as their voices I'd heard blended together when they blessed our family with tidbits of their choir's repertoire. There was a sweet, sweet spirit on my porch. And I know it was the presence of the Lord in each of these delightful young adults.
How quickly the Lord has meshed their hearts and lives together along with their voices. They've come from all over the U.S. and ended up in a huddle where they feel safe enough to be themselves. What a blessing to observe their love and respect for one another and to watch them appreciate their differences. Harmony of hearts. Harmony of happiness. Harmony of hilarity. Harmony of back scratches and hugs and hopes and dreams. Their song of friendship was beautiful to hear and see.
Spending a few hours with them sent my mind back to a time when I brought home a Christian band from college. My mom welcomed the troop and made room for each in her heart and home. I'm glad I learned the importance of hospitality or I would have missed most recently one of the sweetest Easter weekends I've ever experienced.
As I pondered the Christ of Easter who died with outstretched hands on a cross, then rose from the grave to extend his loving grace, it dawned on me that He did all that in order to one day welcome me home. I have no doubt there will be a porch on my mansion and there will certainly be singing – perfect pitch and harmony – all waiting for me because of God's amazing hospitality.
In Romans 12:9-13, the Apostle Paul talks about such open-arm sentiment that we are to emulate while still here on earth.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Like the folks in Mayberry who positioned themselves available on a front porch, we are fortunate to have quality companionship when we open our lives to others and welcome them in. After an extended winter of repetitive cycles of isolation, it's time to get back out there and invite people to come visit. Make your home a haven. Sit on the porch and talk and laugh and sing. Listen to the silent comfort of togetherness between friends. Most importantly, share your faith and the love of Christ with any who grace your threshold or step onto your porch.
The song of life is so much sweeter when we merge our voices and venture our affections with one another. A bunch of college kids taught me that this Easter.