If that didn't already start to change your perspective on the whole concept of parties and entertaining period, I think you should read it again. The passage it is on in Romans says this:
"Christian hospitality differs from social entertaining. Entertaining focuses on the host-the home must be spotless; the food must be well prepared and abundant; the host must appear relaxed and good-natured. Hospitality, by contrast focuses on the guests. Their needs-whether for a place to stay, nourishing food, a listening ear, or acceptance-are the primary concern. Hospitality can happen in a messy home. It can happen around a dinner table where the main dish is canned soup. It can even happen while the host and guest are doing chores together. Don't hesitate to offer hospitality just because you are too tired, too busy, or not wealthy enough to entertain."
(Footnotes from The Life Application Study Bible on Romans 12:13, emphasis mine)
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:10-13 (NIV)
See the deal is, we have to practice. We won't get it right the first time, or the maybe even the 10th time, but we are called to keep on doing it. This verse isn't just written to those who have the gift of hospitality, either. We are *all* called to practice hospitality! And can't you just see how seamlessly this fits into this passage? We are devoting ourselves to loving each other. We are honoring each other. We are serving the Lord by serving others! When we practice hospitality, we are meeting needs. We all have needs.
I went to my favorite kind of party tonight. It doesn't hurt that my friend, Denise, and her husband, Jonny, are ideal hosts. Denise has the gift of hospitality, and she practices all the time. I have never left her home and not felt blessed. You see, she knows it isn't about matching plates, and over the top themes. She knows that it is about making people feel at home in your home, and meeting their needs. My need tonight was fellowship. To be surrounded by fellow believers who can laugh together, and not have to put on a show-really being ourselves. I never feel like I am interrupting their schedule, or getting in the way. It is relaxing and truly enjoyable.
That is what a perfect party is about: the people. I know I have said this before, but as this series draws to a close (less than a week left now!) I just feel that the Lord has even changed my perspective. To plan a perfect party, you have to plan on practice making perfect. You have to plan on people being people-on dealing with a little chaos, a little messy, a little needy. You can't schedule it, you can't organize it, you just have to have the details in place to facilitate it. You have to invite the Holy Spirit, being faithful to what He has called you to. You have to believe that if He has called you, He will equip you.
And if you think I'm not talking about the kind of event you're having, you're wrong. Tonight's party? A 5 year-old's birthday celebration, that blessed me I think maybe even more than it blessed him. It was a party planned to practice hospitality, and it was so much more than mere entertaining could ever hope to be. And that's just perfect.
See the rest of the series here.