Monday, May 28, 2012

Hospitality and Sardines!

In the previous post I laid the foundation of the Biblical emphasis of hospitality and it's incredible value in the Kingdom of God. In this post and a few future posts, I will give you some examples from my own life, and from the lives of those around me, as they use the power of hospitality to bring people into relationship.

Have you ever considered that playing games together can cause people to feel welcomed into your life and family?

 On what was my first of many visits to the home of Tony and Felicity Dale, I had hardly arrived before I was told we were playing the game "Sardines" with some of their family members who had come over for the evening.  Okay, I thought, I was up for games, but I didn't know at the time what kind of game Sardines was. A nice quite board game, or perhaps cards?  Not quite. An adult version of hide and seek - Dale style!

Tony and Felicity live in a very large, rambling old Texas home that was once a brothel.  It has rooms inside of rooms and all sorts of small closets, hidden passages, and wonderful crawl spaces.  It's a child's dream house of exploration and adventures!  This home also becomes very dark once the lights are all turned off.  In the game of Sardines, all of the lights are turned off, and everyone scrambles to find a hiding place.  The "finder" then makes their way through the house trying to find each person who is hiding - all in the dark.  The last person found wins the game.  Now, you may be thinking - that's not so hard! Remember,  I had never been in their home before, and within an hour of arriving, expected to find a place to hide in the dark - in this massive sprawling home!  Let me tell you, that was a bit intimidating! However, it also sounded like a challenge, and I like challenges. To my surprise I began to feel the excitement building to play this childhood game, in a new adult style! Game on!
 I wandered along in the dark, feeling my way into what I thought was a closet, hunkered down under some blankets, and waited.  I had no idea where I was in the house, but I figured they wouldn't lose me!  I eventually was found (next to the last by-the-way), and joined the others waiting for the winner to be found (who had crawled into a bookcase!)   I had a blast! It was the most fun I'd had in years, and through it, I felt like the door had been opened wide for me to be welcomed into this family as we played like children together.  It was a powerful demonstration that playing with one another, as we did when we were young, was incredibly inclusive and relationship building.  It was also a way to say, no area of my home is off limits to you as my welcomed guest! Super hospitality!

Scattergories is a board game that our family loves to play, and if your around our home for any amount of time you'll be invited to play along with us. Plenty of other board games, card games and such outdoor stuff like Volleyball, Badminton, water balloon fights, camping trips, spontaneous picnics, are all ways that we have shown those invited over to our home our hospitality, and the message of inclusion into our lives.  We want to play with you!

When I had a number of speakers come to a conference I hosted here a couple years ago called Living The Mission, I had rented a couple squash courts to use at a local fitness center where we had fun playing each other in the game.  It didn't matter that most of us sucked at the game, it was part of the fun laughing at each other trying to return a serve! Afterwards, we all came back to my home for barbecue and relaxation before the evening meetings at the conference began. 

There is a special bonding that happens when you play together.  When you have fun, laugh, tease, win and lose together.  It communicates some of the aspects of being a family.  It serves someone by opening the door to more "exclusive" family activities, and communicates their belonging in powerful ways.  It's hospitality.

We have invited neighbors, and those we are sharing Christ with, to the Driver Family Cabin which Tom's parents own about an hour from Minneapolis for a weekend of relaxation, boating, fishing, and swimming.  We serve them with all they need for a nice weekend, and we have seen the power of this hospitality open their hearts towards us and the realities of Jesus. 

Jesus himself shows us the value of playing together when He did His first miracle by turning the water into wine at the wedding of a friend.  He became the "host of the host", as he served the event with great wine so they could continue in their fun and celebration!  One of my favorite "Jesus movies" is the one done word for word, through the book of Matthew called, "The Visual Bible: Matthew (1993)".  In this version, Jesus laughs, wrestles, teases and plays with those around Him. It is powerful and great reminder of the joyful and fun Jesus, who enjoys life and sharing it with people!

So I challenge you to find your own version of Sardines, or whatever is your own way of playing together, and invite some of your neighbors, co-workers, and those the Lord is prompting you to build relationship with, over to do it with you!  You may find that in sharing your home and playing together, that it will open their heart to you in ways you never fathomed.

Do you have any stories of playing together in hospitality that you can share? 


  1. I've played that version of sardines and it's certainly fun. I think the "real" version is kind of the opposite though. One person hides, and when someone finds them, they hide with them! This goes on until everyone has found them. As you can imagine, people get packed in, which is of course why it's called sardines. We use to play this in youth group at church. It's fun because a bunch of people are running around, then you'll turn a corner or something and suddenly not hear anyone any more, like they all disappeared.

    D.L. Webster

  2. D.L! Great to hear from you! Thanks for sharing your use of a very fun game! Keep in touch!