Friday, 16 October 2015

Keeping on Cooking: Weekly Hospitality

 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
A number of years ago, in the early days of our marriage and before we had children, Michael and I had the privilege of leading a Bible study group in the church we were part of at the time. It was hosted by a family who modelled generous hospitality.

They suggested that we invite all the members of the group to come for a meal before we met each week. I took turns cooking for our group with our hosts.

It was a great experience for me as I got to see a young family modelling how to be hospitable, and also to learn how to cook for twelve or more with confidence.

Now, following their example, each week I cook for our home group - a group from church which meets in our home once a week to study the Bible.

We provide a meal so that we can enjoy that time together, and so that it is easier for our home group members to come along, even after a long day at work.

I enjoy cooking, and making a meal for twelve is not too daunting. However, keeping on cooking for our home group week in week out needs a bit of planning, and a commitment to serving in this way. 

Here are a few tips for practicing regular hospitality:

1) Cook to serve, not to impress.

For me, this means buying bread rather than making it when we have soup. Pudding (usually yogurts or cake) is also usually shop-bought, even though I like baking. This is realistic in terms of how much time I have available; I also don't want to set a standard that means that others would find it a hard act to follow (though my cooking isn't up to that anyway!).

2) Buy big pans!

We have a couple of large pans for soup or pasta, and a large tray for the oven (cheap ones, from Ikea). We also have a small cupboard full of extra plates, bowls and cutlery for when we have lots of people round.

3) Make food that you can freeze.

If we get fewer people than we expected, I find that this helps me not to be annoyed about the food if people don't turn up!

4) Play to your strengths.

If cooking is daunting, keep it simple. Pizzas are fine!

5) Make it sustainable.

Cook in a way you can sustain week after week. I only make food that will take at most an hour to prepare. This is realistic after a day of teaching my children, followed by cooking for them, and finally getting them all off to bed before everyone arrives.

6) Remember who you are serving.

All service in the church family is hard work, and we need to keep our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus if we are to keep going when we are tired or discouraged. Showing hospitality grows out of our love for one another, which grows from the love the Lord has shown to us.

A simple home group meal; the soup is tastier than it looks!

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