The Gift of Hospitality {Lessons From my Amish Family}

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Grandma Lydia's Good Dishes

Grandma Lydia’s “Sunday Dishes”

HOSPITAL’ITY, noun [Latin hospitalitas.] The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality. – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

When reflecting upon the valuable lessons my Amish family taught me, I have to put hospitality near the top of the list.

My grandparents welcomed guests into their home with a spirit of sincere love and generosity. Never to simply entertain or impress others, but instead to extend grace, comfort, and peace – through a delicious home cooked meal, thoughtful conversation and fellowship, lots of fun and laughter and, if needed, a comfortable bed and pillow for the night.

Mummy Stoltzfus's Visitor Dishes

The dishes my Great-Grandmother Esh (Rachel) used when family or company, visited during the week. My mother especially loved this set.

Both sets of my grandparents (Grussdaudy & Grussmommy Dienner, and Grandpa & Grandma Esh) sincerely loved having visitors in their homes, and welcomed people of many backgrounds and cultures. I very much enjoyed seeing them interact with people who were completely different from them – the most beautiful thing being their lack of judgement or pressing their own notions onto others, and the genuine interest they took in the things their guests had to say.

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”  – Henri J.M. Nouwen

Amish Table Linens

Some of my Amish grandparent’s personalized table linens, embroidered with their first initials. (“B” for Barbara, “I” for Isaac and “J” for Jonas)

My grandfathers always did whatever they could to make their guests comfortable, and my grandmothers outdid themselves in serving plenty of delicious food. There was never a lack of good conversation around the table.

“A compassionate open home is part of Christian responsibility, and should be practiced up to the level of capacity.” – Francis Schaeffer

Grussmummy's Good Dishes

My Grussmommy “Barbara’s” Good Dishes

Amish women may not prepare recipes from the pages of Bon Appetit, but their food is wholesome and delicious, and many times uses ingredients from their own gardens, orchards and pastures. They take great joy in preparing a beautiful spread for their guests, and will often bring out their “good dishes” when there is “company” sitting around their table.

Hospitality has never been about having House Beautiful with perfectly coordinated accessories and the most up-to-date equipment, nor is it dependent upon having large chunks of leisure time and a big entertainment budget to spend, nor does it require special training in the culinary arts or event planning. Hospitality is about a heart for service, the creativity to stretch whatever we do have available, and the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to the ordinary events of life. ~Dorothy Kelley Patterson

Grussmommy's mother Annie's Sunday Dishes

My great-grandmother Annie’s Sunday Dishes (She was my Grussmommy Barbara’s mother)

The culture of hospitality in the Amish community is cultivated by their intentional living style. The lack of “normal” modern hurriedness creates a space where there is time to simply enjoy being together – sharing, food, life, ideas, stories, and a place to put your feet up for a while.

“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” – Karen B. Mains

Grussmommy's Grandmother's , Mrs. Jonas (Catherine) Stoltzfus

These dishes belonged to Grussmommy’s Grandmother’s , Mrs. Jonas (Catherine) Stoltzfus – (My great-great grandmother)

I love the lessons my grandparents taught me about hospitality. Most of all that serving our fellow man is a privileged act of respecting others, and worshipping God.

“A life of hospitality begins in worship, with a recognition of God’s grace and generosity. Hospitality is not first a duty and responsibility; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God’s love and welcome to us.” –  Christine Pohl

In closing I share one more quote – one that perfectly encapsulates the way I felt when I visited the homes of my Amish grandparents. May the same be said of our homes, by all guests who stop and spend time under our roofs:

“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.” –  J.R.R. Tolkien

~ Justina Dee

This post is from a series I’m sharing called “Lessons from My Amish Family”. Click here to read more! 

One last quote on hospitality:

“There is a huge difference between “entertaining” and offering hospitality. Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.” – Karen Ehman

One thought on “The Gift of Hospitality {Lessons From my Amish Family}

  1. Pingback: Lydia Glick | Food for a Barn Raising {Amish Family Recipes}

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