By Hilary Horn —
One of my all time favorite things to do is to have people gathered around our table. Preparing big batches of food, prized even more if most of its from our garden, glasses of wine and cheerful friends – bring a deep sense of joy and gratitude to my heart. I love feeding people. I love laughter and community. Each week we intentionally have at least three to five meals with people – friends, family or strangers we just met. Partially because we are pastors and that’s our thing, but even more so because it’s the way I see Jesus interacting with people the most too – around a meal.
I love this quote from Tim Chester, taken from his book A Meal With Jesus. He says, “People often complain that they lack time for mission. But we all have to eat. Three meals a day, seven days a week. That’s twenty one opportunities for mission and community without adding anything to your schedule.”
Sometimes we make mission too complicated or negate mission out of our lives completely. Saving it for the missionary or pastor we know. But we cannot separate our faith from mission. For me, hospitality has grown into such a rich way to do mission. Hospitality brings out things in people you can’t just see over a cup of coffee or a a third space. When you invite people in your home, giving them a taste of your life and culture, it unlocks a deeper sense of being known. Conversations and your connections are deeper. Mission becomes easier because it’s natural. People know you love them and conversations about God flow because that is the rhythm of your life.
I realize this can be scary for many. Your house may not be up to par the way you want it, you may not be the best cook or you’re afraid of what people may think of you. Maybe because I grew up with huge family gatherings, this type of thing doesn’t stress me out. I learned from a small age what it means to cook for 5-30 people in a pinch and put on welcoming ambiances from some of the pro’s (my mom, grandma and aunts). But I realize that isn’t the case for everyone. It can seem like a huge task. But remember, we all have to eat. Somehow you get it done.
One of the biggest things I have learned though is that you don’t need to be perfect. Boxed frozen pizza and cheap beer or tap water can do the trick. Messy houses and imperfect lives are okay. We live in a “Pinterest perfect” generation which can often lead to lots of unhealthy expectations that cripple us in the process of hospitality. I have found that most people don’t even care about perfect place settings, prestige houses and themed events. What they do care about is being known, heard, welcomed and loved. You throw food in the mix and it’s even better.
My challenge to you this week is to invite some people over to dinner. Just start with one meal. Don’t stress out about it. Make something simple or even order take out. If your house is a mess, don’t clean it. Seriously. No one comes with inspection gloves to see that layer of dust on your shelf or care if your toddler just rampaged through the house. Spend more energy in thinking about thoughtful questions to ask your guests to truly deepen relationship. Hospitality is a process, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one. All you need is a simple invitation over and the rest will figure itself out.