Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
It was early afternoon on a sunny, cool Thanksgiving day. From our home in Moorestown, NJ, I drove over to West Philadelphia to pick up our guests.
We had signed up for quite a crowd this year through Tenth International Fellowship's (TIF) Thanksgiving hosting program: two gentlemen from Colombia, a young woman studying marketing from China, a delightful woman and her friend from Singapore, and another young lady from China. They happily crammed into my vehicle that comfortably holds only four. We drove home with conversation going on in at least three languages.
What trust these students showed in me! I only knew two of them. When we arrived back at our house, we joined my wife, my son and his wife, my daughter and her boyfriend. That's twelve people, half of whom I didn't really know. And they were delighted to be with us. Like most other twenty-somethings, they made their own party—they didn't need much help from us. I always feel the urge to tell the story of Thanksgiving to people from outside the U.S. It's a fascinating story to tell, being rooted in the hard life of some early settlers who decided to celebrate their harvest and thank God for his providential provision. As I pulled our guests together, they sat down on chairs and the floor around me while I gave my usual narrative. I felt very professorial.
The party went on all afternoon and into the evening. My kids needed to leave since they had work the next day. But this group that I brought into our home didn't want to leave! One or two of them started playing the piano. Another one found a guitar I had and started playing. They sang, too. I had to get my bass and join them. We kept going for an hour or so. Finally, reluctantly, at about nine o'clock, we sort of felt it was time to go. No one really wanted to leave. Everyone climbed back into the SUV and I drove them back to the city.
We do this every Thanksgiving and Easter. We love it, and so do our guests. It's our new big, giant family holiday tradition.
If you want to shake things up and pour a dose of major gratitude from others into your family holiday, host an international! Throw caution to the wind. In our experience they really don't care how fancy your home is or how they sit or whether your stuff is perfect. Ours certainly isn't.
Just let Enrique know that you'd like to have a few guests from another country (or use the register button at the top of this post), and you'll have a holiday like you've never had before. Oh, and why did we do it in the first place? Because Jesus said so. Who knows—maybe there were some angels in there along the way.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Charlie Hammell. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org