The Dangers of Hospitality (and why you should always provide multiple exits for your guests)
The following is a true story but the names have been obscured to protect the identities of those involved:
It was a cold night and wet night, the kind you just want to lock yourself in your front room in front of an open fire and shut yourself off from the rest of the world. Which is pretty much what we did.
Naomi and myself had invited a few friends round for tea, a few Corn Hill friends and a couple from the church, let's call them Barry and Sarah M, no wait, that's too obvious, let's say Mr and Mrs Mc.
After some delightful pie; of the mince, chicken and waffleberry variety, we then had some good Baptist banter, my Corn Hill friends are Anglican interns however and quickly tired of this so I duly left them home, getting lost in Belfast in the process of course.
When I finally returned home to my nest, our two church friends had long outstayed their welcome and remained in our front room, one of whom was fast asleep in our recliner. I must point out at this stage that all night the handle of the door into the front room hadn't been turning properly.
Coming in through the door, frustrated at getting lost in what must be one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, again, and annoyed to see my recliner occupied by a dozing Arsenal fan, I gave the handle an extra hard pull when coming through the door.
When our friends finally picked up on one of our many hints for them to leave, such as "Please leave." they made for the door. Which wouldn't open. The handle, like our guests, was not easily budged. And since the windows did not provide an adequate escape route, the door was our only hope (there's a sermon illustration in here somewhere!).
After forty minutes of trying to prise open the door using the following tools:
A credit card
A shovel (from the fire set)
An elastic band
The lead from Naomi's piano
And probably more that I've forgotten, we were coming close to the stage of roasting the plumpest member of the group (who I will not name) over the fire to fend off starvation. Just in the nick of time Mr Mc saved the day by picking the lock with a pair of scissors and saved my wife from cannibalism.
Hospitality is a dangerous business. It can lead to all manner of scenarios and obeying 1 Peter 4:9 can at times be an almost impossible task. But it is still a command we must obey nonetheless. If for no other reason than you learn surprising things about people as I did:
Firstly, that Mrs Mc makes an amazing waffleberry pie.
Secondly, if I ever need a lock picked I know who to turn to!
So I hope we all engage in generous hospitality but remember, please provide multiple exits for your guests for when they finally wish to leave.
(Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Mc for being good sports.)