I went grocery shopping today so my husband could make homemade pasta. It’s become part of our sabbath practice – I spend just a few dollars and he spends hours in the kitchen with flour, water, eggs, and water. He rolls the dough and lets it sit. We enjoy a glass of wine in the preparation, we practice slowing down our schedules and expectations and we start by being hospitable around our own dining table.
We make homemade pasta to push back against the story around us that screams for bigger, faster, stronger, better. It’s easy to run through the drive-thru, pop in something frozen to the oven, and eat hurriedly before the next event. We’re busy people and it’s easy to numb, distract, or ignore the deep hungers for God we all have. We’re no different from our neighbors. Those who don’t know Jesus are likely keeping up with the Joneses, or just trying to keep it together; they’re working hard and trying to love their kids and, when it’s the end of the day they may binge-watch a Netflix show, or drink too much, or shop online – to keep pushing off larger questions of meaning, identity and belonging. We offer hospitality as the gospel way to experience beauty, truth, and goodness in a world of noise.
How God Makes Room for Us
How do we connect the dots between the story of the gospel and our busy, frenetic lives? It starts through the ordinary elements of hospitality. Hospitality isn’t a program – it’s making room. It’s slowing down to look into someone’s eyes, invite them into your own messy home, and share life with them – so that you can also share the abundant food Christ alone offers. The story of the Bible is also a story of food.
The story of the Bible is a story of God creating a home for his people – it’s the story of food. In the narrative arc of scripture, we begin with the goodness of creation. God created a people and a place teeming with creativity and wonder — the fruit dripping with sugary sweetness, the crunch of celery, and the possibilities of potatoes.
Food, too, was at the heart of sin – the desire to cross God’s good boundary lines started with food. Food was promised as the vehicle for wisdom, knowledge, and power. Rather than trusting God to provide food and to follow the boundary lines of his created order, Adam and Even chose their own. The earth bore the curse too, becoming hard to work, and producing thistles and thorns (Genesis 3). This first sin also brought to the surface the growing rupture between people – Cain killed his brother Abel over their different offerings, Esau sold his inheritance to his brother Jacob for a pot of stew.
Yet, in the redemption of Christ, food matters too. In his earthly ministry, Jesus’ first miracle was to provide wine at a wedding. Jesus fed thousands of people, multiplying loaves and fishes, eating and drinking with sinners, and instituting the Lord’s Supper – our sacramental meal of bread and wine – to show us the kingdom of God so we wouldn’t just know intellectually of God but we could get him into our bodies. Jesus is our Passover lamb, our sacrifice, the bread on which we feast. With our church meal, we know that in the drama of scripture we’re headed to a heavenly home full of rejoicing, where we will all find a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb. There, gazing on Christ, we will be home and we will feast in the house of Zion.
So how we eat, with whom we eat, and how we provide the welcome of Jesus in our neighborhoods, matters.
Hospitality and Making Room for Others
How we eat isn’t just consumer-driven choices by what we have time for and how much something costs. By how we eat and drink, we evidence our humanity, but we also participate in the story of God. The Bible is a story of God’s hospitality towards us. Hospitality can be our most effective way to share the good news of the gospel.
Hospitality is making room in your heart, your schedule, your budget, your emotions – all the resources at your disposal – for the power of the gospel to take up residence so that the people of God and those far from God would know him.
As the year winds to a close and the holiday schedules ramp up, consider blocking off a few squares on your calendar to join with friends and neighbors purposefully – to offer the radical welcome of Jesus. Consider a Christmas cookie exchange, a post-Thanksgiving pie potluck, a movie night discussion with popcorn and pizza, or one of our favorites: a Trader Joe’s neighborhood party where everyone brings their favorite treat from Trader Joe’s.
Hospitality starts small. It starts in our places as we pour the goodness of Jesus into the cracks and crevices of longing that our neighborhoods have and like to hide behind their picket fences. We commit to notice, to know, and to invite others in. What if we simply welcomed our neighbors into an abundant life where God had already made room for us? What if we welcomed them into a thriving community of people who truly cared for them? What if we welcomed them into the life of the church?
The kingdom of God is borne in small things: a grain of wheat, a pearl of great price, loaves and fishes; and, for your neighborhood, it may just start with a bowl of homemade pasta.
About the Author:
Ashley Hales is writer, speaker, podcast host, and PhD. She’s the wife to a church planter and mom to 4. Her first book is: Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much. Listen to The Finding Holy Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and connect with Ashley at aahales.com or @aahales on Instagram and Twitter.