I'm gripped with the image of the table. How powerful this tangible place where people gather can be used for over indulgence & sustenance, for community & exclusion of it, for encouragement & criticism. How this flat surface with four legs is so much more than a constructed piece of furniture.
Leaving Relevant allowed the Spirit of Life to breathe new life into me. He affirmed what I have been doing, confirmed areas of what I have & can be doing & corrected me in what I need to be doing. Friends whom I've only known online, who now have flesh & tonality in voice & sparks in eyes, were part of this doing. Affirming this "gift" in me of extending hospitality, even without my space, my home, my food to do it with.
I use "gift" very loosely with speaking of hospitality. It's a gift in the sense that some of us might have an easier time extending it, or navigating hospitality. Yet, it's a call. It's a calling to all followers of Christ to extend. In the Old Testament, we see God continuously calling Israel to be a blessing unto the nations, and the way in which they do this is through hospitality. It's through welcoming in the stranger, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, so that they might know the love & compassion of the Living God. If you love Jesus, then you are required to offer hospitality. How does this look tangibly?
1. Being Intentional
Intentionality is probably one of the hardest nouns to become. Yet, I have found that when I am not intentional on extending & giving myself; then, I will never actually do it. I have a hard time with simply doing. I can easily plan & write up a list, but my execution isn't 10 out of 10. Intentionality isn't about perfection, it's about following through.
- Do you have a neighbor you barely know? Would bringing them some cookies bridge the gap?
- When you go to church service Sunday morning, are you looking out throughout the congregation to be purposeful in whom to sit by? Maybe that person needs you, Jesus with hands & feet?
- Before guests come over to your house, try praying to calm your nerves & to focus on what is most important--your guests.
2. Asking Questions
While at Relevant, I realized that many people don't know how to initiate conversation or ask starter questions. I realize not everyone has the knack (like my ENFJ ability to dream up endless activities) to do this. It's very daunting & scary to put yourself out there, and what if you ask something dumb. Totally been there, many times. When asking questions to get to know people, you have the opportunity to ask follow up questions, which may lead to a great conversation.
- What would be your very last meal? (I love this one, because it tells a lot about a person & you get to ask them why they chose specific items)
- Rather than ask them what their job is, ask, "What is it that you do?" This is great because, some people can answer this in a variety of ways & it gives them to choose where they want to go.
- If you had a free 48 hours with no obligations & money wasn't an option, what would you do?
3. Bringing Meals
I think meals are one of the most tangible ways of showing someone you care. It actually has nothing to do with the food in most instances, it's really about communicating that you took the time to give of yourself to your friend or stranger in need. This doesn't always have to be a home cooked meal either. I had friends & acquaintances send me messages after my miscarriage to offer to bring me coffee (home delivery).
- Consider any food allergies
- Coffee & chocolate go a long way.
- Home cooked meals are ALWAYS welcome & it's not about gourmet.
- Meals can be for just about anyone who is in need, due to health, loss, sickness, or simply because.
By extending hospitality & welcoming people to our table, we get to be a blessing to the nations. As Tim Chester writes,
Our role is to point to him. We have a responsibility to welcome people to the messianic banquet. What we offer people is Jesus. His death is sufficient and complete. He is the Provider. He is the host. Not us.
So in that, we find grace at the table. Grace not just for our guests, but for ourselves as we find comfort & hope in knowing it is him who is the ultimate Host & Provider at the feast.