April 5, 2023
In this first of three Podcasts on the subject of Christian Hospitality, David and Karen Mains set the stage for how the Holy Spirit prompts believers to reach out to those around them.
And I would like to talk more specifically about the loneliness epidemic but I’m going to hold that. We’re going to do three podcasts on this topic of hospitality. So, we’re just kind of getting into it. What about the American church? Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, maybe we could even, it’s not the Christian church, but include Judaism in there. Are these hospitable places?
David: Here’s a short quote, Karen, one sentence. After you hear it, I want to know if you agree with it, or maybe you disagree. “In this inhospitable world, a Christian home is a miracle to be shared”.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author, Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Okay, why were you laughing?
Karen: Well, I do agree with it.
David: Why do you agree with it?
Karen: I wrote it.
David: It’s a sentence I took out of your first book, some time back. “Open Heart, Open Home”.
Karen: “Open Heart, Open Home”.
David: In this inhospitable world, a Christian home is a miracle to be shared. In your opinion, is America a hospitable nation?
Karen: Less than less. In fact, the data we’re digging out from sociologists who study America are saying that we have a high degree of loneliness. Suicide rates are plummeting in certain age sets. So, I would say that we’re not in very good shape as far as this is concerned.
David: And I would like to talk more specifically about the loneliness epidemic but I’m going to hold that. We’re going to do three podcasts on this topic of hospitality. So, we’re just kind of getting into it. What about the American church? Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, maybe we could even, it’s not the Christian church, but include Judaism in there. Are these hospitable places?
Karen: I think those are less and less. Now what we do have are small group Bible studies and special interest groups that are in churches or places of worship where people gather. But as far as using our homes to invite to get to know someone on a deeper level to share a meal, I just think that’s falling off more and more. Best I can tell, we are not really hospitable in our churches in that way.
David: And sometimes that becomes entertainment more than hospitality. Would you define the difference between those two?
Karen: Well we do in our society have a standard of entertaining. Martha Stewart is probably the one who has been preeminently known about that, but that has a lot to do with the table sets, the way our houses are arranged.
David: The meal that’s fixed.
Karen: The menus that are fixed. In fact, I searched Martha Stewart’s writings to see if there was anything that had to do with just the concept of hospitality. I didn’t find anything. Now what she does is great but that’s more the standard for entertaining as well. She would get in popular women’s magazines or whatever like that.
David: Let’s go to the Bible. Who do you think of from Scripture as being a hospitable person?
Karen: Well, the most hospitable person I can think of was homeless.
David: Yeah. I know who you’re talking about.
Karen: It was Jesus Christ. “Come unto me, all ye who labor in our heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. I mean he was a man who extended invitations everywhere he went. So, I would say that he’s our example and like I said he didn’t have a home of his own. So, it was this concept of welcome or inclusion or wanting to know that person or attention.
David: And a lot of times to the people who were thought the least of in terms of society. Going back to Scripture again, do you see hospitality as a gift of the Holy Spirit?
Karen: I do. I think it’s listed, isn’t it? In certain passages.
David: Well, some people would say no. That’s because they’re going through specific passages. But there’s a lot about gifts of the Holy Spirit in Scriptures. This is from 1 Peter Chapter 4. He’s writing and he says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. He’s saying, this is one of the gifts of the Spirit. Now, there are lists in Scripture. They aren’t identical. But when you put all the things that are mentioned in other passages, it doesn’t say hospitality. But the whole emphasis in Scripture is that hospitality is one of those key gifts of the Holy Spirit that people use on behalf of the kingdom.
Karen: When I was beginning to work with this, I did a word search through the Old Testament and the New Testament on hospitality. Just searching for that word. And I would recommend this to anyone who’s listening who feels that little inner nudge saying, “I need to be doing more of this”. We all know that little nudge. It’s pretty familiar in a lot of areas. You need to stop lying. You need the nudge that comes from the Holy Spirit. So, I would recommend that people just get a concordance of how to look up the word hospitality in the Old and New Testament. I was surprised by how frequently the gift of us or the exercise of hospitality was affirmed and recommended in the Old Testament. It is just all through that portion of Scripture. And then you get into the New Testament. They shared their lives, David. We have this model of eating their meals together, not just a Sunday morning or a Sabbath experience. But they shared their lives, and they were in one another’s homes all the time. They were praying together and it’s just a wonderful picture of the life of Christ among his people being shared in that way.
David: I can hear kind of the thinking process going on in some people’s minds. You’re saying, yeah, that’s right. He was talking about married people. He was talking about individuals who had their own homes and so on. Say somebody who’s a young man who’s listening to us and he says, okay, I’m just about ready to zone out because that’s not my topic. He calls himself a Christian, a regular churchgoer, but he rents an apartment. He doesn’t keep things clean all the time. He doesn’t know how to cook. So, he’s left out of this conversation, right?
Karen: No, he’s not. There’s not that prerequisite of having a nice home or decent home. You know, David, when people are lonely, as they are in this culture and a lot of our young men and old men are very lonely, my recommendation is you begin practicing hospitality. Don’t wait around for people to include you. You begin to recognize hospitality. Find someone else who may be living alone and is feeling lonely and unconnected and invite them over. You don’t have to be a cook. You can open a can of soup. You don’t have to be fancy. You just have to share a meal together. Just say, “Come on over for a cup of coffee. I want to get to know you better”. Anything. Make it as simple as possible and then you know you can always order things in. Pick up frozen foods at the stores and put them in your oven if you’ve got a microwave, whatever it is. But don’t let those things stand in the way of connecting with other folks.
David: I have a reminder, okay, that sentence that I used “In this inhospitable world of Christian home is a miracle to be shared”. When the book first came out, Karen, it was your first book, “Open Heart, Open Home”, and it’s still available.
Karen: Still selling.
David: Yes, it’s really incredible.
Karen: We’re talking, you know, from the start of our marriage actually to this time. But the publisher back then put together a poster and sent us copies. In fact, one of those posters, which is very large, it’s in a basement bedroom.
David: It’s our packing room.
Karen: Well, now it is. But it was first put together as a bedroom for the family and then for guests who would come. But then we also had smaller editions of that. So, I would say that the one I’m looking at, which is like three colors, it’s that basic sentence with a visual. It would go into a 9 by 12 frame.
David: You could actually, you just slip it into a frame. Buy a frame. In fact, I get them at resale shops and then put them in there. I had a number of those printed up for anyone who wants a reminder. These are much smaller.
Karen: And what does that say, David?
David: Well, it says “In this inhospitable world, a Christian home is a miracle to be shared”. Here’s my suggestion to people. If you send a postcard, say I’d like one of those. But just write a note to Mainstay Ministries. Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187 or I would even say email Karen.
Karen: My email is Karen@hungrysouls.org. Karen@hungrysouls.org. If you want one of these posters, we will happily get it off to you because we just believe so strongly in this concept. And we believe that this is one of the great gifts that can heal our society with all of the distress that is in it right now.
David: Yeah, very much so if people say how much it is, there’s no cost involved okay. Karen, we went to scripture before and talked about hospitality. Individuals and you brought up Jesus. Let’s go to our lifetimes. Who’s somebody you know of, and you’d say that’s really a hospitable person.
Karen: Oh, I can name it right off.
Karen: That’s my father?
David: Really. Father, okay.
Karen: Wilford LaRue Burton. Yeah. Known by his family as Dick.
David: Yeah. You’re right. He was incredibly hospitable.
Karen: Two memories I have of him. When someone came to our house, to our door and knocked on the door and he welcomed them in I can hear his voice saying “Oh Wilma (that was my mother)” “Oh Wilma, look who’s here” with that same kind of joyful emphasis. And he felt that way. It wasn’t just being put on. And then I grew up with his mantra. And the mantra was “Where the heart is open, the home will be”. “Where the heart is open the home will be”. Thus, the title of my first book “Open Heart, Open Home”.
David: He was a music teacher. He would see himself in a ministry role.
Karen: Yeah, well he was a day minister. A lot of my family was. And that continued to the dinner table conversation. It was just an extraordinary model of hospitality. And then of course my mother was warm too, but daddy was just so overtly so. I can’t imagine anyone coming to my home. In fact, I had a friend from high school who had become a Christian and I asked how did that happen? She was so eager to tell me how she’d become a Christian. She said, “Well there’s something about your dad”. She said, “I wish I had a father like your father”. So, she even remembered and she couldn’t have been around him a lot. But that memory stayed in her mind. Isn’t that extraordinary?
David: He had a Sunday table and I remember meeting a lot of guests.
Karen: We always had Sunday tables.
David: Here’s another person and you’ll remember this individual as well. This was a seminary president.
Karen: Oh, I know who you’re talking about.
David: The president of Denver Seminary. Conservative Baptist. Dr. Vernon Grounds. Oh, he’s such a wonderful man. He’d come to Chicago to speak at our church. This was years ago. And he stopped by the house. You and I knew he was coming and we went to the door and Randall, our oldest, who was probably late grade school at that time. He came. He wanted to see who was there. And Dr. Grounds asked him a question and I thought that’s so nice. He was doing that and then he asked him another question. And I would say Karen for 15 to 20 minutes. While we stood and kind of kept quiet we listened to this seminary president, Dr. Vernon Grounds, talk on a level that was wonderful with our young son, the first of four kids you know. Who does that?
Karen: Yeah. Who does that? What a wonderful example for us.
David: Who puts his arms verbally around someone. I don’t think Randall had ever had anyone who spent that much time interested in who he was, what his hobbies were, you know.
Karen: What he enjoyed in school, what he liked about school.
David: And his teacher, and all that. It was absolutely incredible. I thought here is this man who is well-known all through the Christian world and look at what he’s doing. I want to be like that as well. So as that open heart, a heart then leads to the home being open as well. And it’s a miracle to be shared and we’re going to talk about this because it deserves further conversations at least for the next two visits. Okay?
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s all lower-case letters: email@example.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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