We have been making excuses for why we cannot make room for others at our table. Are you ready for a challenge? A challenge to welcome people into your home, to sit with them at your table, to engage and listen to them, no matter who they are or what their story may be….no matter how well you can or cannot cook, when your house is a mess or you are feeling pressured. Will you make room this week for someone at your table?
Remember the excuses I made….well here they are again with a counter response, a practical suggestion for putting the excuses away this week. And making it real….
A friend made me a meal for me this week. She showed me some generous hospitality. Life has been crazy with a few extraordinary stresses. She made Coq au Vin, but not the old fashioned version. Rather Bill Granger’s modern take on an old French Classic that our parents perhaps made in the 70s. Not only did it taste great, it looked fabulous and she claims it is simple to prepare. So as the weather continues to be bitterly cold, consider this dish for the weekend ahead and maybe invite someone to share it with you. Enjoy!
- For the coq au vin
1.5kg/3¼lb chicken, jointed
150g/5oz diced bacon or lardons
10 French shallots, peeled
a few thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 tbsp olive oil
250ml/9fl oz white wine
small knob of butter
350g/13oz mixed mushrooms (such as oyster and chestnut), sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
small handful chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- For the crème fraîche mash
Thinking about meals and making room at our table. Dreaming about beautiful food, family celebrations, hours shared with friends at the dining room table. Thinking about slow, deliberate food preparation with local, seasonal ingredients that we have sourced from farms and paddock surrounds. Thinking about rustic spaces, candlelight.
Leo Patrone’s images ( he is a wedding and portrait photographer) for Kinfolk magazine which I discovered from Bodie and Frou made me sigh…..the meal looks beautiful. Don’t you agree? If you haven’t seen Kinfolk before do stop by and have a look at their journal. They say, the magazine is”our way of encouraging a natural approach to spending time with family and friends.”
In a world where fewer families eat together, we have a real opportunity to offer grace and community to those people we are connected to in some way. There are people of peace, people we share a link to, however tentative. The new mum at the kindergarten, the check out chick who is always super nice to your kids in the supermarket, the guy you buy your take away coffee from before work. These people are people you and I need to make room for at our table.
Some practical ideas for making this happen soon…..
You may recall that last week I suggested that maybe hospitality was a “public duty toward strangers”, “honor of the community” and a “sacred duty”. This notion is challenging to the busy modern man and woman. A frenetic lifestyle based around a career or family often doesn’t leave much room for welcoming strangers into our home, let alone our friends and extended family. Could this be you or me? What might our excuses me? Let me know if you have some more to add as I tease out this idea of hospitality further.
I am really not a great cook and the thought of having to coordinate a meal makes me stressed. I just can’t do it.
My children are difficult and I am worried they will behave badly. We can’t take them out and we can not have people at home.
I have thought about asking the new people from our neighbourhood over for a coffee, but there never seems to be enough time.
So many people have food allergies and intolerances nowadays, how can I possibly cater for them all.
I am yearning for rest today. Not a Nanna nap or even a power nap, but a time of quiet, relaxation and restoration. So it was no surprise when I stumbled across Tyler David talking about Sabbath Rest. I don’t think much about the Sabbath, as it would seem outmoded in our fast and crazy Western world. I never stop really – there is always the phone, the internet, Facebook or a small child demanding my attention. We were created to work, and work excellently. But we were also intended to rest, to stop, to be quiet and receive a fill with things that reenergise us.
There are many ways of feeling full and not drained – a good coffee, time with friends, exercise, reading perhaps. But Tyler David argues that the God who made us also intended us to find our real fulfilment in Him. Sabbath rest is “like a banquet … full of gladness and tranquility.” Rather than emptying and depleting the soul, Sabbath rest nourishes and fulfills and it enables us to put things in proper perspective. We are made and meant for sabbath rest; for the banquet that nourishes, fulfills and restores relationship. We are not made to just work and work and hopefully maybe catch a day off here and there. So if you need a rest today, or want to think more about resting and taking a Sabbath, you will find this talk from Austin Stone a real blessing.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20: 8-11
While you are all digesting my last post and call for comments on the notion of hospitality I thought I would encourage you to plan a little baking this weekend. Gather some friends, some little people in your world or even a neighbour’s kid and make these delicious, simple biscuits. It is a recipe from my dear friend Jenny. You may already have a recipe just like it. The ingredients are not luxury items and the process is simple…..and that little bit of cinnamon makes the house smell so good. People will be knocking on your door asking to come in!
Quick Mix Biscuits
I have been thinking and reading about Hospitality for a long time, however over the last few months I think am starting to see things differently. What comes to mind when the word hospitality is mentioned? Food, friends, housework, entertainment, stress, anxiety, gourmet food, wine selection, managing children’s behaviour.
S. C. Barton ( “Hospitality,” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997) suggests
“For [most Westerners today,] hospitality is personal and individualistic and has to do with entertaining relatives and friends with the prospect of the hospitality being reciprocated. In the first-century Mediterranean world, however, hospitality was a public duty toward strangers where the honor of the community was at stake and reciprocity was more likely to be communal rather than individual. Further, whereas contemporary Western hospitality has become secularized (so that a common synonym is “entertainment”), hospitality in antiquity was a sacred duty.
What comes to mind now is “public duty toward strangers”, “honor of the community” and “sacred duty”.
Do you agree? For many of us in a season of busyness, stress, small children or financial hardship we may regard this as all too hard. Similarly, our home may be too small, too untidy or our culinary skills lacking. So how to we reconcile our feelings about our life situation with this notion of hospitality as a duty that might indeed be sacred? Love to have your comments on this one……
|He forced a smile as his first guests arrived early; he had not yet explored all permutations of pillow arrangements and it would vex him the entire evening.|
|After suffering a thousand-and-one splinters, he begrudgingly made a concession to her corporeal comfort and purchased a slim pad for the chair.
I accidentally discovered the work of the unhappyhispters and I have to say it is a refreshing take on all that is design focused. These anonymous bloggers take images from well known American Dwell magazine and rewrite the captions. Don’t get me wrong I love design and will spend hours looking at all things interior design and home orientated. In fact as I write this I have at least three tradies putting the render on a new fence, the render specified by the architects. But sometimes we all tend to take this design too seriously. So if you want some light relief do visit the unhappy hipsters. You will laugh and smile and find a small joy in your day, promise!