How the Hellenistic World & Present Day View the Table

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Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

These words were spoken in a time when the Jewish people were heavily influenced by the Hellenistic culture, which based a lot of importance on hierarchy and stratification within society.  The way the table was set up in that day revolved around the most important to the least important.  Those who could give to those who could not.   

Ben Witherington III in Making a Meal of It mentions how food categories encoded social events through degrees of hierarchy:  

  1. Inclusion
  2. Exclusion
  3. Boundaries
  4. Transactions across boundaries  

               

So what is Jesus saying? 

He rejects the idea of using meals to reinforce reciprocity cycles and suggests meals be more gracious and less self-serving.  Imagine how counter-culture he was in challenging the very idea of what is considered to be 'table fare.'  

I myself was challenged with this concept; because, what would Jesus say to me, to us?  How in our cultural context do we as Christians replicate the cultural norms of hospitality and bread breaking?  

How do we speak into a culture, not tear it down, but be kingdom driven instead?  How do we mirror after the King's Lovefeast?  How do we take what is good while leaving out that which is ostracizing?  

I believe we live in a day and age, where sustainability is good and valued.  How if you can talk the foodie talk, know that lingo, then clearly you are on the "A" list.  We can watch food competitions and see how food has clearly become something of an other thing.  Good food is more about elitism than together.  We are more worried about impressing our dinner guests with perfection than allowing vulnerability to let loose there. 

Jesus is more concerned that walls and boundaries are being set up.  He speaks time and again against human societal constraints, which inhibit someone seeking the Kingdom of God.  In fact, it's what enrages him at the temple.  

What if instead, we always set our table as those the Lord himself were coming?  What if that's what sharing the table looked like?  And then, when we say, "But Lord, when did I feed you?"  He responds, "When you fed that child who hasn't known nourishment in food and heart."  "When you took some of you grocery money to give it to that family who needed to eat."   "When you invited your neighbor over for dinner."

We live in such a time as this, where food is more than plentiful and people are literally & figuratively starving.  Why would we neglect in sharing our tables?  Why do I neglect in sharing my table?   

I leave you with this, 

May the blessing of God rest upon you,  
May his peace abide with you, 
May his presence illuminate your heart
Now and forevermore. 

--Sufi blessing (seventh century) 

 

Don't miss out on the 31 Days to Share the Table series by subscribing to RTT.  Join the RTT Facebook community.  Follow along on Instagram, and share your own pictures by using the hashtag #sharethetable   

Sloppy to Special Needs

Transient

When Jesus called out to his would be disciples, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men," I often forget the impact this made on themselves or their family. And as I was reading and pondering this text, something more popped out at me.

It was the sloppiness of dropping it all for the sake of following Jesus. There was an abandon that I have rarely encountered. In fact, I couldn't help but think how often I say, "hold on...just a minute." 

These words fall from my mouth to my kids, to Ben and definitely Jesus. The right in front of me seems more safe. The unknown to immerse myself in this spontaneous call to live life like that of a good puddle jump splash seems frivolous. I mean, you're just going to wind up cold & wet.

But, isn't that the case for most life?

I allow far too many distractions, be it the internet or laziness, to get in the way of living life. But, these people we rub shoulders with everyday deserve to be given common courtesies.  No, beyond common courtesies--to be given the best we have to offer.

****
I'm a mama to a special needs child. I don't know if I've ever given myself that title here. Being this little girls mama comes with much joy and a lot of mess. Mealtimes in particular.

She is a go big or go home sort of personality. She always has been. The day we were going to go puddle jumping she whined & dragged her heals the whole time. However, once she got there to see the pools upon pools, she found a glimpse of glory.

Sharing the Table is leaving a space for her. It's a daily reminder to me how I need to offer more grace to this little girl of mine who still has trouble with fine motor tasks, which eating with a fork is one if those.

When Jesus says "Come follow me," I imagine him saying this to me:

Leave the full sink to play with your girls outside. Make mealtime pleasant, encouraging new bites and not fretting over new shirts stained, for these little ones are to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. They are your people you are fishing for.  Abandon the precision in accurately cut vegetables, in order to spend more time talking into the puppy phone with Caprice & watching another faux dance recital.  Your table is where I will be, and there is no shame welcome here.


I never imagined I would have a child with special needs, but I know it's God teaching me how to love with a gentle patience that is always welcome.

 

Transient

 

Don't miss out on the 31 Days to Share the Table series by subscribing to RTT.  Join the RTT Facebook community.  Follow along on Instagram, and share your own pictures by using the hashtag #sharethetable   

 

Pear Pie with Lemon-Vanilla Honey Syrup (Grain-free)

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I have seen loneliness.  That morning waking up to realize what I thought was a bad dream was in fact reality.  It would soon play out as one of the worst years of my life to date.  My dad would be in jail for the first time, I began college, my younger brother was to live with my mom who was just as unstable at the time, and my older brother worked hard to create stability while self-medicating with a heckalota alcohol.

I was 18, and it really sucked. 

**** 

People ask, "What brought you to Washington?" 

My response bent between needing to do something new to don't like Arizona weather to meeting Ben.  So naturally, everyone associated me staying because of a boy.   

Well yes, and no. 

**** 

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Sunday evenings were the worst.  I would go to church religiously on Sunday morning hoping someone would adopt me and take care of me.  I wanted a mom and a dad who were healthy and loved one another.  What I wanted was wholeness.  I felt like I stepped out of a freeway car crash with exposed wounds and a possible concussion, and all I had was people staring at me without help.  

**** 

It's this image that irks me about Christian culture at times.  I hear someone seriously needing help.  Like tangible hands and feet business, and what is offered them?  Oh some verse to quote God's ever constant care, or how "Jesus doesn't give us more than we can handle."  I'm all for encouraging one another with truth.  

Often times, I can seek out people before seeking out Jesus.  That said, I do know when I am at my worst, it's the hands & feet of Jesus in human flesh, which I need the most.   

Maybe you can relate?   Maybe you can think of someone who is that crash site victim?

***** 

What I needed that year was someone to invite me into their home, make me a meal, and simply listen to me and comfort me.  Sounds simple right!  It's because it is.  It's in the sharing of life, providing space for another person to be heard and affirmed where Jesus is.   

Can I offer this humble pear pie as a means to building a bridge to your table?  Make it, bring it over to a friend who needs a listening ear, or invite that person over to shower them with unconditional attention and love.   

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Grain-Free Pear Pie with a Lemon-Vanilla-Honey Syrup

(printable recipe)

 

Pie Crust (double) Ingredients:

5 cups blanched almond flour

½ tsp salt

4 Tb ghee

1 Tb arrowroot powder

1 egg

Pear Filling Ingredients:

5-6 Anjou pears (2 lbs), peel, core & larger slices

2 vanilla beans

¼ tsp salt

2 lemons, zest

juice of one lemon

½ to ¾ cup raw clover honey

Making the Crust:

Combine almond flour, arrowroot powder & salt in a food processor.  Pulse five times to combine.  Add the ghee & egg, combine till it comes together.  Separate the dough in two.  Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.  

Rolling & Preparing the Crust:

Take some parchment paper & place one dough disc on it.  Flatten slightly with your palm.  Place another sheet of parchment paper on top.  Roll out working clockwise, while you continuously turn the parchment to get even rolling.  The pie dough should be about 11-12 inches around, for you 9-inch pie plate.  Remove the top parchment paper layer.  Slide your hand under the bottom parchment, where the dough is laying on & flip it over (gently) the pie plate.  

If your pie dough cracks, don’t despair.  The good thing about working with almond flour is it is very pliable & isn’t easily ruined like gluten pie crusts where less is more.  You can simply pinch and press the cracks together, much like playdoh.  

Leave about ½ inch overhang around the pie plate, and fold it under to create ridges (or some other design for the edge crust).  Do this by using the knuckles of your index & middle finger against the crust edge, and pushing in with the index finger of your other hand placed on the other side of the crust edge to push between (thus making a ridge).  Repeat this until ridges are all around the crust edge.  

Making the Pear Filling:

Combine filling ingredients in a medium saucepan, semi-poach approach with heat on medium to begin (first four minutes).  Stir, then lower heat to low-medium.  Simmer for an additional five minutes.  Taste.  It should have a slightly sweet & tang from the lemon & honey.  

Fill the pie with the poached pear filling.  

Creating the Top Crust:

Take the second dough disc and roll it out between two layers of parchment into ½ inch thick crust.  Taking a small leaf, heart (or whatever cookie cutter you have) cookie cutter, cut out shapes in the dough.  Make a circular pattern with the cut out dough pieces on top of the pear filling.  Brush the top with a beaten egg.  

Bake for 15 minutes at 400.  Lower the temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown.  

**I recommend covering the pie crust edges with aluminum foil for the first 15 minutes.

   

Don't miss out on the 31 Days to Share the Table series by subscribing to RTT.  Join the RTT Facebook community.  Follow along on Instagram, and share your own pictures by using the hashtag #sharethetable