Today we’re all packing and cleaning and running errands to get ready for our annual family vacation (some more feverishly than others—can you guess who?). We leave on Sunday and hopefully we’ll be able to post pictures from our vacation as we’ve done in the past, so check back on Monday for updates. But we want to sign off for the weekend with another wedding story. Joanna is our latest winner. I laugh everytime I think about this poor father of the groom!
Have a marvelous weekend!
Nicole for the soon-to-be vacationing girltalkers
While at a wedding, the bride was certainly showing signs of nervousness. It seemed that she was so excited and so in love with the groom that she wanted to have everything go perfectly.
Well, everything was going smoothly for awhile. That is until the minister, who had done countless wedding ceremonies in his older age, asked the following:
“Who gives this man to this woman?”
For a moment, the entire church seemed in shock. Even the parents of the groom and the bride were silent. Nobody knew what to say and the minister had no clue that he had said something abnormal.
Finally, the parents of the groom nudged each other and the father of the groom cleared his throat. He had not been expecting to say this phrase, since it is the job of the father of the bride so say this, but since the minister had said “Who gives this man”, there was no escaping it. He spoke up loudly with, “His mother and I do”.
At this, the shocked silence was broken and throughout the church was heard scattered laughter by those who dared to laugh aloud. The laughter seemed to calm the bride and she and the groom were happily married in front of all, despite the irregularity of the “Who gives this man to this woman?”.
“When most Christians hear about their responsibility to practice hospitality, they can think up an amazing number of creative excuses to explain why they cannot be hospitable. Yet Christians are commanded to be hospitable.” Alexander Strauch
Our budget is too tight.
Our home is too small.
We don’t have a couch.
We don’t have a dishwasher.
The painter’s plastic hanging in the middle of our living room isn’t very attractive.
I’m not good at this.
It’s been a long week and I’m tired.
I’ve used all of these excuses to apply for hospitality exemptions. But Scripture has denied all my claims. The Bible is clear about who is to show hospitality: all Christians. By God’s grace, that includes me.
All Christians—not just the rich, or the creative, or the organized, or the gourmet cooks, or the outgoing personalities or the ones with lots of free time. All Christians.
Members of the first century church understood that: “loving one another demanded being hospitable” (Dict. of NT Background, emphasis mine). So where genuine Christian love exists, there you’ll find hospitality. Or, in other words, we can’t claim to love others and refuse to show hospitality. It is, “a matter of obedience” (Alexander Strauch).
And it has particular application to us as Christian women. It is “a natural extension of [our] authority in the domestic sphere” (Dict. of the Later NT) and thus a primary qualification for the godly woman (1 Timothy 5:9).
All Christians are to practice hospitality but not all in the same way. “As each has received a gift” we are to serve one another, “as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:7-10).
My hospitality may not be as frequent as my friend Taye’s. My house may not be as clean as Alyssa’s. My food won’t be as delicious as Bonnie’s or my presentation as creative as Lesley’s. But God has given me grace. I must use that gift of grace to serve and love and show hospitality.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:7-10
My friend Rita sent me this letter from John Newton to his wife, Mary. The author of Amazing Grace was sixty years old when he wrote these words. He and his wife—whom he loved very much—had been married for thirty-five years. She would pass away five years later and he would live for another seventeen years after that.
CJ and I have been married for thirty-four years, so I feel I can relate to much of what John Newton writes about this season of life. His beautiful letter is long, I know, but it is worth taking a few moments to read.
Let pastor, husband, author, and Christian John Newton instruct all of us in the joys of marital fidelity and love, the peace of trusting in the faithfulness of God, and the hope of future grace for the journey.
August 6, 1785
My dear wife,
I long to hear that you had a comfortable journey to Southampton, and that you are now with our dear friends. Nothing has taken place among us that can be properly called new; which is a great mercy. For, though you have been gone but one day, a single day, or a single hour—may produce painful alterations in a family. The Lord has preserved us through a long course of years, and in different situations, from various calamities which have overtaken others. Our obligations to thankfulness are singular and numerous.
When the carriage drove past the corner, my heart seemed to go away with it. It contained what was of more value to me than the cargoes of a whole East India fleet. Tell our niece Eliza that I love her very dearly. She would soon be well—if I could make her so. But she is in better hands than mine! I have a comfortable hope that her illness has been, and will be, sanctified to an end far more desirable than health or life itself. Therefore I leave her to the wise and merciful direction of the Lord, who loves her better than I can.
I cannot write a long letter tonight. What could I, indeed, say, if I had more time, that I have not said a thousand times over? Yet there still is, and will be, something unsaid in my heart, which I have not words to express. May the Lord bless this little separation to quicken us to mutual prayer, and to lead us to a thankful review of the mercy and goodness which have followed us through the many years we have been united.
How many changes have we seen! Under how many trials have we been supported! How many deliverances have we known! How many comforts have we enjoyed! Especially, what great advantages have we possessed, in knowing those things which pertain to our everlasting peace!
The years we have passed together—will return no more. The afflictions are gone, the pleasures likewise are gone, forever. The longer we live, such pleasures as this world can afford, will, more and more, lose their power of pleasing. Only our love, I trust, will exist and flourish to the end of life—yes, beyond it! It will always be a truth, that the Lord, in giving you to me—gave me the best temporal desire of my heart. But the shadows of the evening advance. Old age is creeping in upon us, and the days are approaching when we shall have no pleasure—but what we can derive from the good Word of God, and the consolations of his Holy Spirit. These, if we are favored with them, will sufficiently compensate for the abatement, or the loss, of all the rest. The streams may run dry—but the fountain of living waters will always flow! May His presence be near our hearts—and then all will be well.
I am too fully employed to feel time hang heavy upon my hands in your absence; and, if I am permitted to come to you, the thoughts of the journey’s end will make the journey pleasant.
Nikki is the fifth winner of our funny and crazy wedding story contest. Keep this in mind next time you volunteer to help at someone’s wedding…
Fourteen years ago, two of our former “kids” from youth group were getting married. Since my husband was officiating at the wedding and I was matron of honor, we tried to help out wherever we could. The two of us, along with another bridesmaid, offered to do up the birdseed that would be thrown at the happy couple following the wedding. We set aside one evening to package the birdseed in tulle and tie with pretty ribbon.
The wedding day finally arrived! It was absolutely lovely. Everything went smoothly and without a hitch.
And then came the time to bid farewell to the newly married couple as they prepared to ride away in their limo. The mood was light as all the guests assembled to see them off. Guests untied their little tulle pouches and tossed the birdseed at the couple. The birdseed rained down on the laughing bride and groom as they ran to their waiting limo. And then the guests returned to the reception.
It wasn’t long before small children began crying. Noses began bleeding. Eyes began watering. Commotion and chaos broke out all throughout the room. Someone called 911.
We watched and listened in horror as the ambulance pulled up to the church. And we shrunk away in embarrassment as we soon learned there are different kinds of birdseed! Who knew??? We had inadvertantly purchased a kind that included red pepper—-evidently to keep squirrels away!
We later learned that even the bride and groom had not escaped the effects of the red pepper bird seed. While riding in their limo, their eyes burned so badly they had to get the limo driver to pull off at a Burger King so they could rinse out their eyes with water!
And yes, we did fess up…eventually. And yes, they do still love us. And together we laugh about it…a lot.
For my church’s ladies meeting on hospitality, my friend (and a great example of hospitality!) Nancy Rogers compiled a list of questions to help us get to know the people we invite into our homes. These conversation starters will help you show God’s love to strangers. Thank you Nancy!
Hospitality Questions (Downloadable PDF)
Questions to Get to Know People Better
1. Where did you grow up?
2. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
3. How did you meet your spouse and how long have you been married?
4. What dreams do you have for the future?
5. What is one thing you have never done that you wish you could do?
6. What is the most important thing you have accomplished in your life?
7. What do you enjoy doing with your spare time?
8. If you could do anything other than what you are doing now, what would you do?
9. Ask questions about their work, their kids, where they like to vacation or their favorite foods.
10. What books are they currently reading?
Questions for Biblical Fellowship
1. What is one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year and what are you doing to this end?
3. Who is one person you would like to spend time with asking questions about their relationship with the Lord?
4. What is one new way you could help strengthen the church?
5. What is one thing you could do to improve your prayer life?
6. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
7. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
8. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
9. In what area of your life do you most need growth and what will you do about it?
10. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year?
Questions to Get to Know Internationals Better
1. What country are you from?
2. Can you describe your daily life and family traditions in your home country?
3. What was your education like and what are your interests?
4. What are your impressions of our country?
5. Were you brought up in a religious home?
6. What foods are unique to your country?/ what food from our country do you enjoy?
7. Would you teach me a few words in your native language?
8. Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
9. What are your special holidays and how do you celebrate them?
10. Is there any way I can serve you?
Here’s another hilarious wedding story for you, from Cara (well, two stories, actually):
My husband is a pastor, and as you know pastor’s do lots of wedding ceremonies. The first wedding my husband did was going smoothly up until asking for the rings. The Best man and the Maid of honor carefully handed him the rings which he then placed on his opened Bible. He spoke a few words about the rings and then the rings fell of his Bible and rolled under the bride’s dress. Brian stood there not sure if it were appropriate for him to “go in” after them or wait for somebody to get them. Meanwhile, we all got a good chuckle. Not to long after that wedding he had another one to do. Not learning from his first mistake he took the rings placed them on his Bible and proceeded to have them also roll off his Bible causing the wedding party to frantically search for them which were once again under the bride’s dress. Since then Brian has stopped trying to lay them on the bible and just holds them in his hand—6 years later he has yet to drop another set of rings. But I do enjoy reminding him about it every chance I get!
Have a great weekend friends!
Nicole for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
In this series, we’ll answer four simple questions about hospitality:
What is hospitality?
Who is to show hospitality and who is to receive hospitality?
Why show hospitality?
How do we show hospitality?
So what is hospitality? The word, as it is used in the Bible, is a compound word that brings together the two words “love” and “stranger.” It literally means to show “Love for strangers.”
Hospitality is love. Not only does the word mean “love,” but here it is set in the context of the command to “keep loving one another earnestly.”
“Love in action” is how one woman defines hospitality. It is “meeting the needs of others through the use of one’s resources, specifically in and through the context of the home” (Practicing Hospitality, Pat Ennis & Lisa Tatlock)
Showing hospitality is not limited to having people into our home (although this is its primary expression). We can also use the resources of our home to show hospitality by making a meal, buying groceries, visiting the sick, babysitting, sending a note of encouragement, gifting homemade crafts, and even supporting local and international ministries who feed and clothe the poor.
Hospitality is a love of strangers. “It is to show kindness to strangers in such a way that they cease to be strangers.” It is “A concrete and personal expression of Christian love, intended to include strangers in a circle of care.” (New Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
A “stranger” isn’t merely a person you’ve never laid eyes on before. So often, people in our churches, neighborhoods, jobs, schools, and even extended family are strangers. Even though we see them every day, we hardly know them.
But when someone walks through our front door, a tangible, powerful thing happens. There is a fundamental change in our relationship. People who were once strangers cease to be strangers. They become a guest, and even a friend.
Who is one stranger you can show love to this week?
“Show hospitality to one another…” 1 Peter 4:9
I used to think that hospitality was for certain, uniquely gifted women who “got into that sort of thing.” You know the type: she has three lasagnas in the freezer, a roast and potatoes in the crockpot, cookies in the oven and coffee just brewed. Her table is always graced with fresh-cut hydrangeas from her garden—even in the dead of winter (or so it seems). She’s never happier than when a few strays show up unannounced for dinner, except of course, when a family of seven comes to stay for the week.
Me, well I panic when an extra guest shows up for dinner. My hydrangeas barely bloom in spring, and I think the chicken in my freezer has a frosty coat. Oh, and the coffee? I drank that already.
Don’t get me wrong—I love all things domestic, but I never thought I had the kind of capacity for regular hospitality as those “gifted” women.
Sadly, I didn’t see the importance of hospitality either. I considered my home to be merely one of many possible places to get together with people. So when my husband Steve and I would plan to hang out with church members, neighbors, family and friends, I was quick to suggest we take a couple to Starbucks or host a group at the park. Less work for me, I thought, to my shame.
You can see why I had to laugh when our senior pastor’s wife, Lesley called last fall and asked me to lead a women’s meeting on hospitality. I think maybe God was laughing too.
So I sat down with a stack of Bible dictionaries from my husband’s library and a few books on hospitality (I had to buy and borrow as I didn’t have any!) and made some surprising discoveries.
For example, did you know that hospitality is everywhere in Scripture? It’s a major theme in the Old Testament, notable in our Savior’s life and teaching, and a regular practice of the early church. Hospitality even figures prominently in the Bible’s description of heaven.
In fact, the number of times the New Testament authors exhorted believers to practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13, 1 Tim 5:10, Heb. 13:2, 1 Pet. 4:9, and so on) led one author to observe that to them, “hospitality was evidently rated highly.”
Sadly, I had not rated hospitality as highly as I should, but by God’s grace, my perspective has changed. I’m not so quick to suggest Starbucks anymore.
Today, we want to start a new series on hospitality, and our hope is that all of us would be encouraged to rate hospitality as highly as God does.
Several of you newbies have asked about the book club. Our latest selection is Womanly Dominion by Mark Chanski. We want to give everyone a chance to order a copy, so we’ll begin the second week in August, after we return from our annual family vacation.
If you want to participate, simply order the book now, and read the Introduction and the first chapter by the week of August 10. We’ll post a review that week, and then continue at a pace of two chapters per week. In the meantime, check out Mom’s initial thoughts.
Just in time, Amazon has restocked the book, so order your copy today.
If you’re new to girltalk, you can take a peak at past book club selections, peruse our series on reading, or check out our latest summer reading recommendations.
Bonni sent along this really cute wedding story:
I was flower girl at the age of 2 for my sister about 25 years ago and so the story goes…
I was ready to walk down the aisle because my parents gave me a little incentive. If I walked down the aisle, I received a strawberry shortcake doll. Enough said, I was going to walk down that aisle. However,the ring bearer apparently didn’t have such a great incentive because he started screaming that he didn’t want to walk down,so they decided we couldn’t walk because he was too scared. Then my father was walking my sister down the aisle and I decided I wasn’t going to let this ring bearer stop me from getting my doll, so I walked down behind the bride and my father! My sister and father had no idea I was there until they stopped and I bumped into them. Well, everyone got a good laugh and I got my doll!