Hospitality is one of my “things.”
Things I ponder. Things I enjoy studying. Things I have to practice.
I’ve been the recipient of great hospitality and know how good a generous heart has made me feel. And I’ve had some practice being hospitable, as our family has surrounded ourselves with community in a city where we have no immediate relatives and as we’ve hosted those immediate relatives in our home when they travel our way.
Being a gracious host doesn’t always come naturally for me. I’m one of those blended extrovert/introverts social media is so excited to discuss these days. I’m fine in a crowd, comfortable on a stage, willing to speak up, and I enjoy being with others. Until I want to retreat to my house like a leggings-wearing hermit until I’m ready to people again.
And often, the Holy Spirit’s nudging to show love to others doesn’t happen when I’m refueled and ready to step back outside. Isn’t that convenient?
Certainly there is a heart behind the practice of hospitality – one of love for others and extending the grace that has been given to us. Author Bri McKoy of Our Savory Life has written her first book on just that.
Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table explores the art of loving others through time at the table.
Bri’s blog, Our Savory Life, is a collection of stories and recipes (many Paleo and grain-free), so I dove into the book expecting delicious food and tips for building fellowship and community. I was prepared to make a grocery list and some dinner invitations.
More than amazing meals and useful tips, Come & Eat is a challenge to be intentional about life around the table, by being present and willing to follow God’s lead.
It is about reaching out when it’s awkward. Extending an invitation when it’s inconvenient. And sometimes, saying ‘yes’ when you kind of (really) want to say ‘no.’
Through engaging stories about meals and hospitality, and thoughtful questions that encourage introspection as well as looking around us, Bri reinforces the importance of meals and tables in our human experience.
She discusses the need to first show up at our own table, recognizing its great value to marriages, families, and friendships. Prioritizing time at the table naturally emphasizes the importance of our relationships.
She also demonstrates the value in making room for others at our table. Whether they are people just waiting for an invitation…
“May we understand that a lot of days there are people walking around replaying a harsh reckoning of themselves and their own failings, and may we interrupt that with an invitation. May we replace their internal dialogue with, ‘You are loved. You are known. You are seen. Come with me, and eat!’”
…or people in our lives that need our attention…
“If your table is the destination for people, then the people who sit around it are a divine invitation. And you’ll miss that divine invitation if all your preparation doesn’t lead to you actually sitting down with them and participating in the fellowship of the table.”
Stashing random Legos in the guest closet (don’t open that!), artfully arranging a charcuterie plate, and turning on some casual music matters not at all if I don’t see – really see – the people around my table.
Then Bri challenges us to (get ready for this) INVITE OURSELVES TO OTHERS’ TABLES. Fear not, this does not involve arriving unannounced to acquaintances’ homes and saying, “Hey! Do I smell tacos?”
There are times an invitation to your home just isn’t practical or possible, but there is still a need. Jesus lived this example.
“Jesus was, without shame, an expert at finding a place for himself in others’ homes. He wasn’t afraid of entering into the lives and worlds of others, places that were perhaps more comfortable for the people he was looking to reach.”
Bri recounts some opportunities she has had to do this, from delivering a meal to someone living on the street, gifting a cup of coffee to a stranger, or watching for someone in need of a kind word.
And sometimes, this means simply showing up and learning to live in the discomfort of others’ pain and suffering.
“He is not calling us to rescue anyone; he is calling us to pull out a chair and sit amongst the broken.”
Our presence says, “I can’t help. But I will sit here with you while you hurt.”
God calls us to the table for deeper fellowship with one another. The simple invitation to “Come, and eat” is a great place to start.
Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by author Bri McKoy is available in bookstores September 5. Reserve a copy before September 5 at www.comeandeatbook.com and enjoy pre-order gifts including early access to book content and a digital print download.