Arne and I were visiting one of our largest Seventh-day Adventist churches in another part of the country. As we were leaving after the services, among a crowd of strangers, we heard a voice calling our names. How warming it was to find someone we knew! Seven or eight years previously Arne had performed the marriage of Zoe and John. Zoe's family were very close friends of ours. It was exciting to see her and John with their small, one-year-old daughter.
After visiting between the pews a few minutes, Zoe said, "I wish I could have you over, but don't have anything prepared." I wanted to say, "Zoe, you don't have to give us anything to eat, but let us come over and be with you for a while." I refrained. And after a few more words we parted.
It was pouring rain and we had no where to go but to our motel room. How pleasant it would have been to be in Zoe's home that Sabbath afternoon. I don't know what she had in her house to eat, so it's hard to say what she could have done. It wasn't food 1 craved, it was fellowship.
The home I grew up in was poor and plain. During the depression years there were times, I've been told, when there wasn't enough food. At the worst times my clad waited hoping we children would leave something on our plates because he was hungry. Dad was a hospitable person, always ready to share what he had. Many times there were strangers at our table. I remember one summer day when a tramp sat on the doorstep eating his plate of food because my mother did not feel comfortable with him in the house.
The pastors of our district almost always ate with us on the days they spent in Camden. When they needed to stay overnight, one of us children gave up our cot-like beds so they'd have a place to sleep. It was a privilege we vied for.
Perhaps one of the best bits of advice my stepmother gave me, when l got married and shortly thereafter became a minister's wife, was to always be able to feed unexpected guests.
She suggested that I always have cans of soup and fruit and bread or crackers on hand. You know opening some soup cans and putting out bread or crackers would not be an elaborate meal, but it is a meal. It gives opportunity for fellowship around the table. Think about it. Isn't that what's most important?
I've eaten some outstanding meals at people's homes. I don't remember much about the food, but I d o remember the fellowship, the warmth, the caring.
When we were pastoring, there were very few Sabbaths that we didn't have people in our home for dinner. There were visiting speakers who, because of their experiences and dedication to the work, were role models for our children. Wayne and Linda were inspired by their stories.
Having the non-Adventists with whom we were studying for Sabbath dinner was a wonderful way to acquaint them with what an Adventist home is like. Many of those people have become life-long friends.
I've learned people need to eat, but more than that, they need to be cared about. There's nothing like the family table in the kitchen to let them know they are special.
I still have soup on hand. Now it's usually home-made soup that I've frozen. There are jars of fruit on the shelf and home-made bread in the freezer, too. My stepmother's advice is still good advice.
In reading the writings of Ellen White, I find much about being hospitable. She admonishes us especially to invite and serve those who will be unable to return in kind. They won't require fancy meals.
As wives of ministers, we may be called upon to invite many kinds of people into our homes. Remember, all people, whether rich or poor, need most of all to be appreciated and loved.
When Jesus comes to judge the nations, one of the things He will say to those who are saved is, "I was a stranger and you took me in." (Matt. 25:35).