Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

Hospitality 101: Quick and Easy: No Cook Entertaining {pt.1}

Hospitality.

It’s simply opening your home to others, sharing what you have and being accessible to people.  It means coming out of your comfort zone for a purpose (the gospel) and answering God’s call to “show hospitality without grudging” to one another with a smile.

When we share a meal with someone, there is a closeness that is assumed. You’ve put yourself into a posture of friendship and are showing acceptance. (vs. the coldness of people who are not speaking and would never eat a civil meal together. Think holiday dinners in a family that can’t stand each other. Or consider the racism of the 1950’s where restaurants would announce on the door, “Blacks not Welcome or Served.”) Jesus broke all racial and economic barriers when he ate with publicans and sinners, Jews and Gentiles alike. We see Jesus purposefully eating with the downtrodden of his day and the Pharisees raising their holier than thou eye brows at him.

For whatever reason, food cooked and shared with another person in your home invites intimacy and shows acceptance.

Tim Chester in his book A Meal With Jesus makes the point that the Son of Man…

  • came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
  • came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
  • came eating and drinking.” (Luke 7:34)
The Son of Man came…eating and drinking. Is this significant? I believe it is.

Someone has said that all throughout scripture we see Jesus either going to a meal, eating a meal, or coming from a meal. In heaven, we’re promised a banquet, a marriage supper. Food is essential to the body, and meets basic needs, but it also weaves a beautiful fabric of community in unlikely places. Food and table fellowship shows unity and oneness. Think of the special moments of your life, and you’ll probably associate at least some of them with food and drink.

I can remember being a frazzled young mom and going to an older woman’s home for lunch. I can’t remember what she served, but she’d have her Bible on the table, and we’d talk about life, and scripture and husbands and kids. The simple treats she served promoted friendship, love and trust. It also was a true ministry to me.

This article on the historic and Biblical aspects of hospitality is too good to not read. God’s people Israel were sojourners. They were wanderers and pilgrims. God met their needs through a nomadic lifestyle. New Testament Christians where often times displaced because of persecution, and depended on the goodness and help of strangers. We are called strangers and pilgrims as well, a reminder that this world is not our final home. Perhaps that’s why God insisted that Israel’s judges deal fairly with the sojourner and alien in the midst of Israel and why God commanded certain laws of protection for the sojourner, giving them the same protection as the widows or fatherless.

So, how can you cultivate a heart for hospitality?

1. Ask God to go with you as you “do hospitality.”  Any ministry will be an abysmal failure if we “go it” alone. When we do good things for the wrong reasons or in our own strength, we’re setting ourself up for burnout, failure, frustration or works that are called “wood, hay, or stubble” in the final analysis. Ask God to lead you when you open your home. Follow Him instead of running ahead of Him.

2. Pray for someone to help, but then be open and joyful when God sends you someone. Be flexible and aware that God is working and that you are an instrument in His hands.

3. Start with what you have. You don’t need to run out and buy new table cloths, candles, glassware, etc…

One of my favorite teachers, Jim Berg, always gives the analogy that God gives us our daily “mana” (daily blessings, trials, conditions, situations, posessions) like he gave it to the children of Israel. He not only gives us what he wants us to have, but he “regulates” our use of it.(like he gave laws about collecting the mana to Israel.) In short, God gives all things and regulates our use of all things. He cares about our attitude when we get His gifts (even when they seem like a trial) and He expects that we’ll use them lawfully, not sinfully or for our own glory or flesh.

So think about it: What has God given you? An apartment? An extra room? A dorm room? A teapot? A tea cup? Use what you have to bring God glory and to encourage or help another person.

Your home doesn’t have to be spotless, but it should be generally orderly and comfortable. I love Money Saving Mom’s free “2-Hour House Cleaning Checklist”.  I’ve used it many times! :)

Simple Ways to Start: {Hint, Don’t Cook!}

1. Consider asking someone over for tea, coffee or lemonade. You can start simple with a plate of store bought tea cookies.

2. Serve ice tea and chips and salsa. You can make a fresh salsa the day before and it is world better than store bought.

Here’s my dad’s recipe for fresh salsa. Some say it’s the best in the world. :)

Dad’s Fresh Salsa

3 lbs. fresh tomatoes, diced into 3/8″ pieces

2 (14 oz) cans Hunts petite diced tomatoes, drained

1 large vidalia onion, diced

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced

1/2 pkg fresh cilantro, no stems, chopped

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained

1 T. oil

vinegar to taste (about 2T-4T)

salt and pepper

1 tsp. crushed basil

1 cup Heinz ketchup (yes, I know it sounds gross, but it’s not. Trust.)

Mix all in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate for 1 hours. Serve with nacho chips. Best salsa you’ve ever had. You can’t stop eating it. :)

3. My favorite: Cheese platters.

Cheese plate

Having cheese and crackers on hand has saved me I don’t know how many times from having nothing to serve guests who pop in! Good cheese can become expensive, but it actually proves economical if you are having company several times in one week, this is a great quick and easy way to entertain.

You’ll need a nice platter or wooden cutting board, enough to fit your cheese on, without crowding.

I typically use four cheeses, because they are easily available at my Walmart: Gouda, smoked cheddar, French Brie and a rich blue cheese. (You can use whatever you prefer.) I place the cheese in cut wedges, and fill in the remaining area with a mixture green and red grapes or other fresh fruit that I have on hand like a handful of blueberries or sliced apple, then place almonds, figs and Craisins in little groups around the fruit. Artfully arrange and serve with an assortment of crackers on the side, and you’re done! Easy and elegant.

Ina Garten has a lovely tutorial in her cookbook which can be found online here.

 Of course, quick and easy platters can come in any form:

Fruit platters: watermelon, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, artfully arranged.

Antipasto platter: cluster red cherry tomatoes, olives, mozzarella balls drizzled with olive oil, cheese and hot pepper flakes, breadsticks wrapped in priscutto, folded salami, marinated artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, rustic bread rounds.

These are all things that can be bought in advance and set up in about ten minutes.

What about you? What are your favorite ways to feed people on short notice? Who can you invite in this week?