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Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. I Peter 4:9

Since Katherine and I are planning a Mediterranean cruise next year, that’s where we decided to begin our first official week of the Watts summer cruise—and what better way to start than with a sampling of coastal European food? I was confident I could produce some decent Italian, loved Greek dishes, and hoped to render a reasonable approximation of French and Spanish cuisines. These menus would surely provide a tasty change from our regular fare, and get our maiden voyage off to a memorable start.

My plan was further inspired by a visit from some dear friends arriving that week as our guests for dinner and an overnight stay. This sweet family was on sabbatical from their work as Chinese missionaries. While on vacation, I knew they would welcome a home-cooked meal and some of the comfort foods they missed in China. With that in mind, we opted to invite them along with us on our ‘stop’ in Italy. (I make a pretty mean lasagna!) We spent a delightful evening together over dinner that included our favorite house salad dressing (imported all the way from the Italian immigrant section of St. Louis, MO) and a special dessert. (Granted, pound cake and ice cream isn’t exactly tiramisu, but it was easy and left me more time to socialize!)

We love having people over—and rarely grumble over the fact. Our chief complaint is that we don’t make the time to do it more often!

Cruise life is characterized by hospitality. Travelers are greeted and served by staff whose job it is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. When our guests arrived, our role was clear: they were the travelers, and we were the hosts receiving them. With that in mind, we did everything in our power to make their stay a pleasant one. Not only did we serve a special dinner, but we tidied the guest room, changed the sheets, put out clean towels—I even left mints on the pillow!

Scripture reminds us that earth is not our home, which makes us all travelers ‘just passing through.’ Maybe that is why we are charged to offer hospitality so freely. If we are all guests, we all need welcoming. In order to make that happen, everyone needs to act the gracious host. We are, after all, expected to look after each other’s interests and treat one other as we would hope to be (Philippians 2:3-4. Matthew 7:12). If we want everyone to feel welcome, we must embrace each other with warmth, acceptance and generosity, serving each other selflessly, even sacrificially. Until we all get back home, hospitality is essential.

Mints on the pillow, however, are optional.