I love hosting. I love the idea of extending my table to others. One of my favourite times was organising a meal for a friend who was about to volunteer overseas. I managed to cater a 3-course dinner for 18 people! A pretty big triumph, if I say so myself. It’s not just about food though. There’s something I love about sitting around a table and chatting about life; the highs and lows, the dreams and struggles and everything in between. It becomes a place of community. The table is where we welcome people into our lives.
Jesus is the host with the most
The rhythm and art of hosting is one that Jesus often followed. Time and time again in the Gospels, we see him eating with people and enjoying their company. One particular instance that stands out is in Luke 19. Jesus is travelling through Jericho, and while having a moment to take in his surroundings sees a man called Zacchaeus. Jesus stops everything and rather unconventionally, invites himself round. By this invitation alone, Zacchaeus’ life is transformed. Although he was ostracised from society, Jesus’ invitation recognises his humanity and says, ‘you belong.’ The table isn’t just a place for eating. It is space for people to be reconciled, to be restored and to be given dignity.
Who’s on your guestlist?
If we were to extend our the table to others, who else might we give an invite to? It’s easy to invite the people we already know and like, but what about those in the edge of our periphery? Do the people who make our food have a seat? Ironically, the same food we give to friends when being hospitable is often unjustly sourced from people we ignore around the world. We may not invite them round for dinner but we should cater for our global family in seeing their humanity and loving them accordingly. Kelsey Timmerman writes: ‘When we recognise that the people who make our stuff have hopes, dreams and personalities, we can’t help but care whether their job pays them a living wage and allows them to reach their dreams.’
So in living in the way of Jesus, let us be known for being a community of radically hospitable people that not only cater for friends, but also neighbours, strangers, farmers and factory workers. Let us host a global table of genuine community where transformation takes place. Practically, this could look like improving conditions for farmers by reducing your CO2 emissions, buying ethical food or donating your food waste. When laying the table of hospitality, will you extend the invitation for all to come?
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