Hospitality Corner: Winter

by Melissa Taft

Editor’s Note: The following reflection has been excerpted from Meditation Monday – Doorways To The Kingdom. The accompanying recipe is from Hospitality for the Gluten-Free. We hope you enjoy this series of seasonal hospitality reflections and recipes!

The kingdom of God is the ultimate place of hospitality. It is the place where friend and stranger from different cultures, ages and social strata all sit together at a great banquet feast, just as we have done with so many over the last month. It is a place where there is much fun and laughter and celebration, where barriers of class, culture and misunderstanding are broken down. Where fear becomes love, indifference becomes caring and enemies become friends. It is a place where hospitality and welcome beckon all of us towards healing and wholeness.

It is this kind of feast that I think is previewed in Isaiah 25:6

In Jerusalem, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will spread a wonderful feast
for all the people of the world.
It will be a delicious banquet
with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat.

Years ago, I remember seeing a painting that supposedly depicted this banquet feast of God. I say supposedly because it was a very formal dinner table set with beautiful plates and lots of silverware. But there were no people at the table and, to be honest, I cannot imagine most of my friends and acquaintances feeling comfortable with such formality anyway.

The kingdom banquet feast will be a place where not only do all feel welcomed but all feel honored and respected. None of us will feel out of place because we don’t know which utensils to use for which course. None of us will feel conspicuous because we don’t eat meat or dairy or gluten. There will be something for all of us to enjoy. And who will be serving the meal at that feast? Jesus our great and glorious servant king will.

Some of the last and most enduring images we have of Jesus combine hospitality and service – washing feet at the last supper, cooking breakfast on the beach for his disciples after his resurrection – hospitality and servanthood, the culture of the kingdom, the rich and enduring signs of welcome that we have experienced time and again over this last month.

These are the images that come to my mind as I think of Lilly Lewin’s question When you think of the kingdom of God what comes to mind? For me the kingdom of God is like the banquet feasts we have experienced in so many places on our travels. But it is not just a feast for us and a few friends, it is a feast for everyone.

~  ~  ~

One of the aspects of hospitality that I am grappling with these days is how to make meals that are inviting for my gluten-free friends. Bread and cheese have always been staples of lunches for us and the moment the basil is ready for harvest I am making pesto, but what can I make that is equally as appetizing but acceptable to my gluten-free friends?

Dried Tomato, Olive Tapenade is one possibility. Even those that don’t normally like olives love it.

I have adapted this recipe from one I found in the Australian Women’s Weekly Tomato Cookbook. Also I use tomatoes I dry from our garden rather than bought ones which are always soaking in oil that then needs to be discarded. The recipe is also at its best when the basil and oregano are picked straight from the garden.

  • 1 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives

Process all ingredients until smooth. Spoon tapenade into cold sterilized jars; seal immediately or store in the refrigerator (stores 4-6 weeks).

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