“To set your table is to do hospitality with God.” Joanne Thompson, Table Life.
I have a neighbor who I am beyond blessed to call my very dear sister friend. I’ve known her for over 20 years. For all of those 20 years, every time I step into her home, she has made me feel more welcome and comfortable at her table than anyone else I’ve ever had the privilege of walking alongside of in this life.
The crazy part is, I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped to explain to her what that means to me. As in, truly-down-deep-in-my-heart means. Sure, I’ve said thank you. Written cute, clever notes of gratitude. Asked for recipes (the ultimate compliment to a hostess, right?!). Tried to reciprocate with dinner parties of my own (which were nice, mind you, but didn’t hold a candle to the authentic hospitality of hers). I’ll call her the next morning to pour over the silly details and events of each night she hosts us. But I don’t think I’ve ever once expressed my soul gratitude for what each moment at her table says to my heart.
So, let me try it now…
It says to me: “I trust you. I value everything about you. I love you. I care to hear what you think and feel. And I want to share myself with you, too. I want to giggle with you; share tears with you; walk along side you; help you; let you help me, too. My door is always open – come on in.”
THAT is how I want to DO LIFE with my sister friends, family, and even strangers, don’t you?! THAT is why thinking about life around the table and has come to mean so very much to me lately. To be the authentic hands, feet, mouth, and spirit of Jesus. Right here. Right now. In my house or in yours.
And it doesn’t need to be – and probably doesn’t make sense to be – a Martha Stewart-worthy event! Sure, it’s fun to get all Pinterest-y, Food Network-y, even a little Martha-y every now and again. But that isn’t the point of hospitality. There was no social media, no cooking shows, no entertaining blogs or magazines in Jesus’ time! Yet everyone who ever broke bread with Him would NO DOUBT have felt it was the most magnificent experience just to be in his presence – whether in a field, on a mountain, in a boat, or over a table. They were in His life. They felt His LOVE.
“…entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want – a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decided that every time you open your door it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide.” Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine (emphasis mine.)
Oh my gosh, I LOVE that!!! Nourishment. On every single level. Physical, social, emotional, spiritual. Sharing a meal equates to sharing life.
But it’s gotta be authentic in nature, right? Because authenticity leads to soul sharing. Soul sharing leads straight to Jesus (that “where two or more are gathered in MY name” thing!). Jesus leads to life lived abundantly, including an abundance of JOY. Oh Lord, I yearn for an abundantly joyous life! Amen?!
This weekend, I have the honor and privilege of leading a wonderful women’s retreat outside of Chicago. Part of my “job” is to entertain. Part of my “job” is to extend hospitality. Part of my “job” is to teach. But the BEST part of my “job” is to present His presence this weekend. To see each and every part of this experience as soul-level nourishment and extend that nourishment to all who are able to attend. I think I might just be the luckiest lady alive. This job rocks.
And so, whatever your week and weekend hold for you, whatever is in store for you and those you have the privilege to spend it with, treat it as a gift. A time to share things you haven’t shared before. To experience the miracles in the mundane. And to discover God’s love at it’s purest level – simple, hospitable moments that leave you (and your loved ones) wanting more.
Take a moment to share with us how YOU celebrate hospitality. We’d be so excited to hear from you!
Peace, love, and JOY!
Up Next Week: A Sister-Friend Recap of our REVIVE 2015 Retreat!!!
(Part of this post has been “up-cycled” from an original post from this very blog on June 17, 2013! Don’t you LOVE the word “up-cycle”?! )