Culture of the Table

Culture of the Table

MacaroniThis Sunday we gather around tables with our All Saints at the Table groups to eat together.  Here are some thoughts from Mary Jane Grooms on the nature of hospitality:

1. love of strangers
2. love to strangers
3. given to generous and cordial reception of guests

Hospitality is not about you! (It is about them)
Hospitality is not about your house, your cooking, or you. (It is about them)
Hospitality is not about what they will think of you. (It is about them)

It is all about being welcoming, being thoughtful and sensitive to
their needs, getting to know them, providing refuge from loneliness, or
overwhelming personal responsibilities, or just good fellowship.

It is about serving, not being served.
All Christians are
commanded to be hospitable but not all have the specific gift of
hospitality, that love of strangers.  Just as all Christians are
commanded to be merciful but some have the specific gift of mercy in
every instance it behooves us to learn from those who are gifted in a
specific area.

Those with the spiritual gift of hospitality have no problem taking the first step towards a stranger and engaging them, with a goal to draw them in, welcoming them, finding out who they are, etc. 

We can walk into a room full of people we don’t know and sally forth into the crowd wondering who all these interesting people are and wondering what all their stories are, and we set about with curiosity and do a lot of listening.  We invite people over for a meal sometimes not knowing what we will serve them and invite them to help us in the kitchen whilst continuing the conversation making them comfortable in every way.  We invite people into the chaos of our lives and homes not waiting for the perfect moment, perfect set of conditions, perfect anything.

Hospitality can look like:

  • Macaroni & cheese at the kitchen table with the kids
  • Leftovers on real plates with real knives and forks and a sweet space of unhurried time
  • Gourmet food lovingly prepared and shared in a beautiful setting
  • The gift of your time and your things in service to them

There are no moral categories here

  • You are not a moral failure if you serve hotdogs to your guests on paper plates.
  • You are not morally superior if you spend 10 hours in the kitchen preparing an exquisite feast served on the china crystal and sterling silver.

Because this is not about you!

Hospitality is about them:  serving them, loving them, welcoming them in.

Set yourself aside; and move towards that stranger.  Move in love even as you tremble with fear of the unknown.  You can do all things (especially the keeping of his specific commands!)  through Christ who strengthens you. Phil 4:13