When Kris and I Skyped about me joining the team at Grace Table, we couldn’t believe how much our hearts had already been aligned. It was as though we were old friends who had been searching for the other and found home in each other’s stories. I’m so grateful and honored that I get to share the space she created and to have my first post be up today.
We go down this path a million times a day, and it takes me all those times for me to see beyond my anger, his disobedience, and what’s fair. For a heaven-sent second, everything slows down. His screaming quiets in my head, and I finally perceive what is good and profound through the loud fog of disciplining him. The generosity of his arms reaching out to me first, the relentless desire to reconnect – it’s the gospel, the hospitality of reconciliation.
A couple of weeks ago, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house. It was initially supposed to just be our little family and some cousins, but it ended up being a big party with 12 people- a mix of family, church people, and friends. My initial thoughts were, “Will we have enough food?! Will everyone get along?! Will it be awkward and weird?!” The usual freak out. But in the end, all went well, and there was PLENTY of food, fun conversation, and happy hearts all around.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hospitality and community this holiday season and how both of those things require intention and openness. They require getting out of your comfort zone and possibly being a bit awkward. There’s risk for rejection and messiness in opening your heart and home, but I’m convinced over and over again that this is what Jesus did, this is who He was.
He invites. He calls. His arms are open wide. And in His company there is joy, peace, and comfort.
Creating community can be messy and loud and so, so GOOD. It’s worth the risk and the discomfort of stepping out of your comfort zones, and next week is an opportunity to do this all over again. To invite someone who might not celebrate Christmas with their family or who might be far away from home. To welcome people into your imperfect home and care for them. To let go of messes and stresses and soak in the goodness of those gathered around you. I hope you’ll give it a go and experience the joy of being Jesus to someone else.
James and I love feeding people. Everyone is happy when they’re full, and we so enjoy making people full and happy.
But before we get to having happiness all around, I’m usually a stressed-out crazy mess. I want everything to go well, for people to feel comfortable, for there to be laughter and good conversation, and for people to leave full and refreshed, so I fret and try to make sure I have everything under control. I think of potential conversations to be had, I worry whether people will enjoy the food, I schedule what should happen when as if I’m holding an event instead of just having dinner with friends.
I’m rolling my eyes at myself.
What I’ve been learning these days is that hospitality doesn’t look like that all the time. It’s less about a perfect night together with friends and more about welcoming and opening our hearts to whomever walks through our door whenever they walk through our door. I love when things are planned down to the minute, but I’m learning that being flexible allows more space for connectedness. I’m learning that hospitality doesn’t have to mean a fancy dinner but that it can just be a cup of coffee and some snacks. I’m learning that cooking for someone does something for both the one who cooks and the one who receives. There is warmth and comfort in it. And I’m learning that only loving people that I want to love is too narrow and that Jesus was the opposite of that. His love is wide and deep and felt.
On a related note, read Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and then come over, and let’s cook, bake, and eat through the recipes together.