A Place at the Table
By Stephen Hatch of Lee’s Summit, MO, USA
He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” —Luke 14:12–14 NRSV
I am a foodie. I love to cook, but I also love to try new foods and have new dining experiences. I am fully convinced that one of the main reasons for this is my early experience of sharing meals with church members.
Some of my earliest memories are sharing with my family (my father was serving as a church appointee in Mexico) and going to homes of local members for meals. These homes were usually simple, and their food supply was meager. But the meal was always delicious and served with love and joyfulness. It was obvious to me that our hosts shared at a cost.
At first it made me uncomfortable, knowing that I was eating food at one meal that would likely serve them for a couple of days. But the hosts offered a sense of rich welcome and generosity. We felt their joy in having us in their home. I understood early what it was like to have a welcome place at their table.
I serve the church in the international field and again find myself welcomed to table after table with joy and generosity. Each country and culture is different, and every experience is unique. Sometimes it is a common meal such as potatoes and beans. Sometimes it’s a little more interesting like guinea pig or udder. Sometimes it’s a local dish like feijoada or baleadas, and sometimes it’s similar to what I would prepare myself at home, like spaghetti or eggs. But my place at the table is always offered as one of welcome and love.
I love cooking for my family and inviting others for a meal. I love to share my food with others. I only hope that when I prepare meals for my guests I also am expressing the same welcome and hospitality I have felt countless times. I hope they know they always have a place at my table.
Prayer for Peace
God of hospitality, help us not only ensure a place at the table for everyone but to add love to the hospitality shown. Help us send our guests out with peace in their hearts.
Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community
Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the friendships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles? How have you felt the love of the community?
Today, God, I will invite friends and new acquaintances alike, and bring peace to the table, as well as the food.