Pull up a Plate

Love,Food,Hospitality,Church,All nations,Sunday

There’s nothing like food to bring people together. I’ve gotten closer to people over Halal chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, Sushi, Vietnamese noodle soup, tacos, ice cream sundaes, hamburgers, potatoes with peanut sauce, casseroles, and biriyani or steak dinners. Our church believes in hospitality in all its forms.

Jesus was known for his “eating and drinking” with sinners and some of our memorable stories are of him with Matthew, Zacchaeus, the 5000, the 4000 and the Disciples at the Last Supper.

Perhaps at our meals, we are together vulnerably expressing our mutual need for ‘daily bread’ and our humble thankfulness for God’s most recent provision. There is a togetherness that often helps us relax and share on a more personal level. As long as there is food on our plate we are present and available to share one more story, to hear one more antidote, to discuss one more idea.

When we share food from another culture there is the extension of friendship and acceptance. There is the taking in of something which is important and meaningful to another. There is a drawing together across differences in something common which makes us alike.

Meals pull people to cross social barriers since wealthy and poor alike enjoy good food. There is joy in the creation, the serving, the consuming and even comradery in the cleanup if that is part of the routine.

We recently shared a wedding shower for our intern and his fiancé. This event with multi-cultural food brought diverse cultures, ages, social classes, genders and faith groups together into one joy filled occasion where cuisine played a central role.

What you are eating across from me helps me stay face to face with you. In a world filled with technology which can keep us connected but apart, it is nice to sense close proximity to another person made in God’s image who is struggling through the challenges of life, breathing in the same air, experiencing the same atmosphere, taking the same time just to be here, together.

We claim to be 50 nations in one family.  The second Sunday of each month we celebrate the food from a different part of the world and our members love preparing, displaying and offering what is close to their hearts and stomachs.

When food is offered, somehow people come when nothing else might draw them into relationship.

What have you done to express your hospitality across barriers? What is your favorite food to offer to someone with whom you want to share friendship or welcome? When you think back on the all the meals you’ve eaten, which food offered to you did you enjoy and appreciate the most? What made it so special?

VALUE: Cross-Cultural Servanthood

Our staff are reading an interesting book called Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer. Faith Fellowship heralds three values: Faith, multi-generational and multi-national community, plus servanthood. This book blends the last two values for us.

The way this value looks for us includes the following definition:

Servanthood – This means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward

  • Putting the best interests of others ahead of our own
  • Utilizing our gifts, resources and abilities to the benefit of building up the body and the individuals in it
  • Choosing humility, graciousness, gentleness and compassion as our first response to others inside and outside our immediate fellowship

This is far harder than it sounds when reading words on paper. Everything within us seems to fight against acting like Jesus in Philippians 2 where it says he emptied himself and became a bond-servant.

Elmer’s point in his book (p. 17) is that in a cross-cultural situation it is natural for North Americans to act from a point of superiority even without realizing it. He says that our superiority “appears in disguises that pretend to be virtues – virtues such as

  • I need to correct their error (meaning I have superior knowledge, a corner on truth)
  • My education has equipped me to know what is best for you (so let me do most of the talking while you do most of the listening and changing).
  • I am here to help you (so do as I say).
  • I can be your spiritual mentor (so I am your role model).
  • Let me disciple you, equip you, train you (often perceived as “let me make you into a clone of myself).

The author summarizes that “superiority cloaked in the desire to serve is still superiority. It’s not our words that count but the perceptions of the local people who watch our lives and sense our attitudes.”

There is no question then but that servanthood begins from a deep sense of humility as to who I am and a deep sense of respect and honor as to who God has made you to be. Your culture, faith, experience, background, personality and understanding of God as filtered through the Scriptures all are facets of life that I pay attention to.

Our perception of servanthood is filtered through our cultural lens. What we think of as service is easily interpreted as superiority or ignorance by another. This is never so obvious as in the different ways we greet each other and show respect.

Our perception of servanthood is also filtered through our generational lens. We were all raised with what we were told was the “right” way to show respect to others – to those older, to men, to women, to relatives, to strangers, to those in authority, etc.

Being mixed in the soup of multi-culturalism and multi-generationalism can easily leave one feeling like there may no longer be any right way to do much of anything. Servanthood is a value we are still learning. What have you learned about servanthood in your context, culture and circumstances? Bless you as you put Biblical servanthood into practice.

 

Open Doors lead to Open Hearts

Do you remember the first few people who welcomed you at Faith? How about at your first work place or your school? Sometimes that welcome has a lasting impact on us.

There is nothing like feeling welcomed. When I enter someone else’s place it makes all the difference if the welcome is warm. When I enter another church it changes everything if there is a warm welcome or not. When others come to Faith I expect them to get a warm welcome from all of us who consider this home.

The firstcomers at our small group love to welcome those who come later and there is a genuine joy expressed at being welcomed into a group. When a refugee family spent the afternoon eating and sharing with us there was a sense of inclusion at having an open door and an open table being offered. I notice even at the youth group that the welcome once you’re in the door makes all the difference.

Rick Warren, in his book Better Together (p. 48), has gathered several verses in different versions which give us the importance of hospitality for the Christian who is following Jesus.

“Open your homes to each other without complaining.” I Peter 4:9 (TEV) Also, Isaiah 58:6-9; Luke 14:12-14.

Warren adds, “For some, hospitality is as natural as breathing. For others, the practice must be acquired. For all, the gift must be nurtured.”

He declares the difference between entertaining and showing hospitality. “Entertaining declares, ‘This is mine – these rooms, these adornments. Look, please, and admire.’ Hospitality whispers, ‘What is mine is yours’ (Acts 2:44).

As followers of Jesus the neighbourhood in which he has placed us is our open door to reach out and demonstrate hospitality. Filling our schedules with activities, not chosen purposefully to connect with others, will short-circuit our chances to open our hearts and open our doors.

You can’t show hospitality to everyone but you can show welcome to a few.

The same happens when we gather for services, banquet or events. You can’t invest a significant welcome for everyone but you can with those around you. Keep looking and reaching out.

What did you feel like when you entered a place of worship and no one welcomed you? So, who have you welcomed into fellowship lately? How can you use your hospitality in the weeks to come?