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: MULTI-GENERATIONAL AND MULTI-NATIONAL COMMUNITY

Visioning what heaven will be like is something beyond us even if “we can only imagine.”

Revelation 5:8-10 pictures living creatures and elders in worship before Jesus singing a song that says “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood your purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (NIV)

We have fifty nations in one family at Faith. Although, a newcomer named Robert let us know that he was here representing the fifty-first nation.

We have demonstrated this value through opening refugee homes which have now welcomed over 500 people from 60 nations. (This ministry called New Hope Community Services Society now operates in Surrey with an apartment building as a cornerstone.) We also started New Hope Childcare for new Canadians and single parents – this ministry has also helped over 500 families since it opened in 2002. We have partnered in hosting the Foodbank on Fridays as well over 150 individuals and families are supplied representing 30-40 different nations.

This value has changed us. Our community engagement is different as we do outreach events. Our banquets are different in the menus, programs, music and mosaic of guests who come. We see our differences as a strength since every culture reflects the face and heart of God slightly differently – giving us all a fuller picture of who we serve and worship.

We believe God is asking us to represent the unity in diversity demonstrated in the picture given in Revelation. We say we are here to get a taste of heaven now. While we are imperfect, weak, foolish and often stumbling our way trying to keep in step with the Spirit we trust that we have a Good Shepherd leading us home.

Multi-generational and multi-national community is our second value. Twenty years ago we had very few generations and very few nations represented here. Now, there are members from many ages, nations, careers, social levels, gift sets and interest groups. God has been gracious.

We present the value as follows:

Multi-generational and multi-national community – This means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward

1) inclusivity and diversity in our private and corporate gatherings and social circles

2) intentionality in our welcoming of others unlike ourselves

3) deepening and broadening of relationship building through our conversations and purposeful activities

It seems to be our human nature – especially in a community with a huge number of introverts – to narrow our circle of relationship to those who demand less of us. To continually welcome and invite newcomers into our social circle stretches our emotional, psychological, personal and sometimes spiritual limits. Our boundaries get tested more than we feel we can bear.

This value is key to the core of who we are. It is sometimes easier to practice in our corporate gatherings than in our private gatherings. In our private gatherings we appreciate those who are most familiar, most like us and most undemanding.

We see that since this is not always natural for us to include newcomers then we need to be intentional in our choices, conversations and activities. How are you demonstrating diversity in Christ’s family? How will you show this value in your relationships better?

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?