Easter and the thought of food are synonymous, for me that is. Along with it the question of what to prepare to make it a culinary feast! It’s my favorite time of the year, a time of reclined fellowship around food-laden tables, and the joy of being with brothers and sisters in Christ. A time of serving and washing each others’ feet, reflecting on Jesus who did this at His last supper. The Greek word for supper in John 13:2 can also be translated as ‘feast’! Easter is a time of feasting, in the physical sense as well as in the spiritual sense, a time to eat and partake of the Bread of Life.
As with most Biblical feasts commercialization has diluted the original meaning. Easter originated when the Israelites were freed from slavery, they had to slaughter a lamb and use it’s blood to mark their doorposts and with that step of obedience, all their lives were saved from imminent death. Jesus came and became that innocent Lamb without spot and blemish, He paid the price of death so that all that marked their doorposts, all who surrendered to Him, would go protected from eternal death and receive Eternal life. In Jesus, Easter becomes relevant to all, any nationality and anyone that has ever been caught in slavery. To share this feast, a supper, a time of eating, we celebrate the Lamb that was slain and His heart.
In the New Testament it became clear that the meaning of fellowship extends to others, not just our immediate circle of family and friends. Jesus’s coming was inclusive from the start. He died for all, not just an exclusive few. If we want to celebrate Easter broader, more in the context of what Jesus died for, it also means opening our homes to others that are not in our immediate circle of influence or comfort. In this time we can endeavour to restore the heart and essence of it by opening our hearts and homes to others, especially non-relatives. Many of us are comfortable to invite family, but few of us are willing to open our homes to others, especially strangers!
To make it practical we need to dwell on the heart and the how of fellowship. Easter is such a wonderful opportunity to do this, Jesus’s heart is for the lost, for the outcast, for those on the fringes. The heart is obvious, but how, how do we do this? In South Africa, my home, it is considered somewhat foolish to invite a stranger in. In seeking the Lord on this, His emphasis was specific, in that we need to invite strangers into our homes! It’s imperative to extend those invitations! He Himself said in Hebrews 13:1-2, that in so doing, we will entertain angels! “Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
I would love to entertain an angel every now and then! The question therefore remains – how?
Unfortunately in our rushed culture and limited time, the privilege of hospitality has been forgotten, it’s value downplayed, perhaps because we want to be ‘more of a Mary’, to sit at Jesus’ feet, or due to a lack of confidence in our cooking ability. Yes granted it’s true, oftentimes we are simply too exhausted to fathom having to be hospitable, along with piles of washing, housework and the lingering school homework. However, I like to call it the privilege of hospitality because a few years ago two Bible stories changed my perspective of it.
1 Kings:17 (Elijah and the widow) and 2 Kings:4 (Elisha and the Shunammite’s son) In them two ladies opened their homes to the prophets Elijah and Elisha and were rewarded. One was rewarded with a son out of a state of barrenness, the other was rewarded with surplus olive oil to keep her and her son alive in a severely drought-stricken country. Each was rewarded numerous times and both saw their sons raised to life! Neither of them sought a reward, yet God rewarded them. He provided for their need because they opened their homes, and blessed them for their hospitality!
I have asked God to show me how I can open my home and cupboards to others, because I really believe hospitality is very much a part of His heart. He loves it! He promotes it and He demonstrated it by sending His Son ahead of us to prepare rooms for us in heaven.
There are some practical tips that we can use as guidelines:
· Set your heart to open up your home to others – in this we are aligning our hearts with Jesus’s heart. He loves that!
· Invite people who are on the fringes and those that are not yet a part of regular fellowship – those who are strangers to you but not necessarily a threat to your safety.
· If you are married, do this in agreement with your husband and listen to his perspective on how to make it work.
· Keep it simple – a gourmet meal is not necessary! Bread and jam with fellowship is better than a lonely feast.
· If you are unsure about safety, invite people for a picnic at a park or public place, once again keep it simple, it is the fellowship, not the food, that is most important.
Even if you’re not a culinary expert, just know that God loves hospitality and our hearts can be knit with His as we ask Him to guide us on how to be hospitable. You don’t have to make a gourmet meal, but may this article encourage you to make or buy a meal and share it – especially over Easter. Sometimes all it takes is one family to open their home, for others to follow.
Liesl has a treat for you... a beautiful recipe