Let’s eat together

Every term in our church we have a Hospitality Sunday – and the good news is that more and more people are getting involved. Many people are opening their homes – and many others are enjoying the experience of visiting somebody else’s home. Hospitality Sundays are great occasions. They are an opportunity to get to know others outside the immediate context of church.

For Christians hospitality is not an optional extra in which some of us may be engaged. Hospitality is not a special gift that God gives to some, but not to all. No, all of us are called to open our homes and our hearts to one another. Although sometimes we say that ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’, the fact is that no Christians home should have a drawbridge. Rather the door should be open to all – and not least to our brothers and sisters in the faith. For we are called to love one another, and the fact is that if we love one another, then we will want to open our homes to one another.

I find it significant that the duty of hospitality comes up time and again in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Open your homes to strangers” (Rom 12.13); similarly the Apostle Peter wrote: “Open your homes to each other without complaining” (1 Pet 4.9). As for the writer to the Hebrews, he says that it is in our own interest to “welcome strangers into our homes” (Hebs 13.2) for often we find we are welcoming, as it were, “angels without knowing it”!

And yet, some are reluctant to open their homes. Why, I wonder? Is it because the term ‘hospitality’ suggests to some the offer of a full-blown meal? The reality is that hospitality can be very simple. For the aim of hospitality is not to impress others – but to show friendship to one another in the context of eating together

Let me give some examples of what hospitality could entail:

  • Coffee and Danish pastry
  • Strawberries and cream
  • Scones with raspberry jam and cream and a pot of tea
  • Smoked salmon and cream bagels
  • Ice cream and cake
  • Lasagne and garlic bread

Do note, hospitality doesn’t have to include a roast and two veg. Nor does hospitality necessitate a dining table. Hospitality can be something very simple which doesn’t involve people sitting up. It doesn’t have to involve great expense. If you have a garden, you could be a little more adventurous and have a BBQ – you might even find your guests would be happy to lend a hand with the cooking!

Furthermore, hospitality can take place at all times of the day – breakfast (smoked salmon and cream bagels are a marvellous way to start a Saturday); lunch (if you can’t cook a lasagne, you can always buy a ready-made lasagne); tea (you can’t beat freshly made scones with jam and cream); or supper (I like the idea of coffee and dessert, whether it be strawberries and cream, or ice cream and cake).

And, of course, hospitality doesn’t have to involved hosts of people. It can involve inviting just one or two people round – all that is needed is a place a little bigger than a broom cupboard!

In our church we often speak of Hospitality Sundays, for the simple reason that many people find a Sunday the best day to invite round others. But not everybody finds a Sunday easy . Caroline and I, for instance, prefer to invite people around on a Friday evening. Find the day that is best to you – and then invite one or two friends.

So let me encourage you to open your homes to others – I guarantee you will be the richer for the experience.

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