My son’s yell echoed up from the lower level and bounced around the walls of the living room.

My husband and I shared a glance before he made a beeline for the stairs and the gaggle of kids downstairs while I glanced around the adults gathered in our living room, casting about for a way to revive the conversation as a slightly awkward silence descended momentarily.

Our church believes in Church as a body of people rather than a building, and that means that we open our homes and gather as a scattered Church over shared meals and conversations on alternative weekends in place of having a formal worship service.    

My husband and I are the primary hosts for our group, and we find ourselves opening our house and our lives to people we’ve known for more than a decade at the same time that we are welcoming in people he and I have never officially met.

We spend these Sunday mornings before our gathering tidying, cooking and texting as we adjust plans and food based upon who is coming, who has cancelled, and who just might show up after all.

Life is messy, and hospitality with children is sometimes oftentimes less than perfect. Add to that sharing a meal with approximately fifteen people, and these mornings at our house are best described as organized chaos.

And I love it.   

Hospitality is best when it is  about sharing honest lives, not the manufactured perfection we so often think is necessary.

If you join us on a Sunday morning, you’ll find princesses in flowy dresses darting between rooms, boys shouting (mostly) in laughter as they play Sega racing, and a poodle named Peanut hopping from lap to lap for a quick snuggle before he moves on.

You will find adults loitering in our kitchen, hands wrapped around a mug of coffee talking about jobs and kids and all of the ups and downs of life.

You will find brokenness and breakthroughs, sorrow and joy, triumph and struggle in the lives of those who gather.

You will find people who love God, who love their neighbors and who are committed to trying to do both, well.

And that is better than any pretended perfection.

Lord, help us to set aside insecurities about opening our lives and our homes as we welcome others in. Give us hearts of hospitality. Amen.