“Heart and Soul”
Guest lists. Whether for a big event, such as a conference or a wedding; or as small an occasion as a backyard bar-b-que, we generate a guest list. It might be formal, the invitation requiring a definitive RSVP or much more flexible, as in “Come if you can and bring a friend; I’ll make sure we have hamburgers to go around”. Often some thought, even animated discussion is needed. Will so and so get along with so and so? Can we sit them at the same table? Let’s mix it up at bit. And as an organizer sometimes one simply needs to hope that everyone will play nice, be grownups, encounter someone with whom they ‘click’ and enjoy themselves anyway. Guest lists.
The nature of Christian community is illustrated in the great kingdom parable about the banquet (Luke 14:15-23), to which the invited guests had all given their regrets. “Go at once into the streets and lanes of the town…so that my house may be filled.” God’s guest list. Not a list of people ‘like us’, or those who might augment the financial offering. Not those that would increase our age category or interest group. Not some who might be useful or take over ministries we’re bored with or are desperately seeking volunteers for… but God’s guest list, those who God invites to God’s Table.
Grace-filled hospitality as a primary mark of Christian identity is not considered an obligation but rather a joy and a blessing. It is not just the provision of refreshments, not simply the act of welcoming but the quality of inclusiveness, the attitude of generosity, the gift of forgiveness and the vulnerability of sharing within the Christian community and way beyond. Love from Christ and in Christ and for Christ motivates followers of Jesus to accept that ‘it’s not all about me’ and to reach out in practical, substantive, even sacrificial ways, to all who yearn for safety, shelter, companionship, health, food and peace.
Here, in the Body of Christ the Church, is the fullness of gracious hospitality. Here we are equipped to put our faith into action, to serve and minister and love, in Christ’s name.
Culinary Musings: Frugal French Onion Soup for Four
4 large onions, thinly sliced; 2 carrots, sliced; 2 cups beef stock, plus 1 cup(or more) water; 1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce; a splash of wine or sherry, perhaps; grated cheese(cheddar, mozzarella etc), toasted bread slices, pepper (Options: sautéed garlic and/or mushrooms, leek or green onion, other vegetables, herbs) Sauté the onions and carrot in a little olive oil, add stock, soy, sherry, pepper. Cook over low heat until onion is soft. Even better made a day ahead. In oven proof bowls, top soup with toast and cheese and broil until bubbly. If you have to, serve a loaf of bread or some crusty buns. You should be able to make this soup for about $5. Total.