I was introduced to Sue Donaldson author of Come To My Table just a few months ago. Our introduction was timely because hospitality was something I was struggling with. Still kind of am. This and this are just two examples of my less than stellar hospitality moves and there’s more where that came from but we’ll just leave it at that. Yep.
What Sue helped me see through her book is that hospitality is really a model of what Jesus did for us. He invited us in. To sit and commune with him. To be with him. He didn’t wait for us to be at a certain place in our walks of life – the invitation has always been there and is always open for anyone He paid the great price necessary for us to be welcomed into his presence.
And for the believer hospitality is just one way we can model Christ’s outreach to others. Sue talks about lessons we can learn from the Ultimate Host (Jesus). The following things are highlighted and underlined in my book:
To be God’s invitation to the world, we may have to walk through unfamiliar territory and invite the unexpected guest. We all have people in our world who are easy to include. We can’t get enough of them. Then there are others. We feel awkward around them. We are not inclined to serve them, much less welcome them at our table and into our lives. But, God has invited the world, and that includes both kinds of guests. We need to ask, “Is God’s invitation supposed to come through me?”
She talks about God’s timing in hospitality and this really struck a chord with me because I like to know what’s going to happen and when. So when she asks this question, “Can we relax when things don’t go as planned? Can we trust God knows what He’s doing even if the coffee pot breaks at the last minute or a surprise guest arrives an hour later than everyone else? Will we let Him be God in the unexpected?” That’s a hard one for me.
Also the topic of feeding our kids healthy greens came up in the book. I loved what Sue says about this, “My purpose is to feed them (our kids) well, whether or not they recognize the value of green, or any other color. But besides good vitamins, I need to serve them a God who loves and forgives, and provides purpose for their lives. And they will see it best when I’m living it out. I’d better make sure they see a mother who rejoices and relaxes in doing her Father’s will. That’s a nutrition that will hold them in a good stead and guide them to eternity.” Next to this I have written in the margin of my book “is this me?” I can’t say rejoicing and relaxing are words I’d use to describe my hospitality right now. I get stressed over making sure everything is just right. But through this book my eyes were re-opened to the fact that it’s not about me or the food. It’s about relationships and simply opening up our lives to other people even in the middle of our own mess. I love how Sue puts it, “Food just accompanies the main event: God’s welcome and ours.”
I think I also found great comfort in hearing that hospitality is hard work. Sometimes I think that because hospitality is hard for me personally that I’m just not cut out for it or it’s just not a good fit for me. But that’s the farthest from the truth. And to hear that it’s hard from who I consider to be an “expert” makes me feel better. Sue points out that, “hospitality takes effort, and sometimes you see the results and sometimes you don’t. But that shouldn’t keep us from doing the work, sowing the seed and presenting the food God offers.”
The practical tips that Sue shares in helping our families get involved in hospitality has been a big help to me as well. Also, the recipes in the back of the book are excellent. Sue shares how to serve large groups economically and quick serves that you can pull out of the freezer.
I’ve never been one to freeze stuff and pull it out because I feel like it’s not as fresh but I tried it last week when my Mom’s in Prayer group came over early one morning and it worked perfectly. I had frozen a loaf of pumpkin bread and it was just as fresh and it was so easy to serve. Everyone else brought something too and we had a great time together. I’m definitely going to be freezing more!
Come To My Table is a wonderful book that has helped frame my thinking when it comes to hospitality. I’ve been given hope that I really can do this.
If you’d like to win a free copy of Sue’s book please leave a comment here on the blog or on Facebook telling us one of your most greatest all time epic kitchen fails. Ha! Oh yes I did ask that. Names will be entered in a drawing next Monday and the winner will receive a copy of the book in the mail. Whoo-hoo!
Okay, the answer to my question for me would be a roast I cooked the other week that was hard as a rock. Another time I put vanilla on our steaks instead of Dale’s steak sauce. Also, a poundcake that completely fell. I never understood that term “my cake fell” until that day. Still tasted good. My Mom is an excellent hostess and we always had people over when I was growing up. One time we had the preacher’s family over (whose son I married) and she accidentally put garlic in the cake instead of salt. I’m still not sure how that happened??? That was her epic culinary fail. It’s more fun sharing hers than mine. Thanks Mom for giving me writing material. I love you.