Posts Tagged ‘community’

Have You Ever Been the Stranger?

Have you ever felt overlooked, looked down upon, ignored, or had people distrust you because you were different? Have you ever felt invisible? I know I have.

Years ago when my husband and I were searching for a new church home, we walked into the lobby of a very large church and were immediately directed over to a huge metal rack. The rack was full of name badges, one for each member of the congregation, who upon arriving, picked their badge off the rack and pinned it on. We were instructed to fill one out for ourselves, which we did and we then spent the next 1 1/2 hours without being greeted by a single soul.

What was meant as an exercise in hospitality had become a dead tradition.

Name tags, though they can be helpful, do not produce hospitality, do not truly welcome the stranger, and do not build community.

People build community.

Do you know who make the best "greeters?" It's the people who were once strangers themselves, the ones who remember what it felt like to be invisible.

Have you ever wondered why homeless people, even after receiving assistance and offers of help, so often return to the streets? It's because the sense of belonging is so powerful. For many, it's the only place they've ever experienced acceptance.

It's been said that we think what we need most is safety. The homeless have something to teach us – what we need most is acceptance.

Hospitality is about acceptance.

THE LAST COURSE:

Hospitality in a church setting is a reflection of God's gracious welcome. Congregations that don't emphasize shared life will have a difficult task in reaching out to strangers. Sometimes, though, even churches who seem to be doing it right, fostering a sense of care and community among members, can lose sight of the strangers in their midst.

How would you rate the sense of welcome in your church family? It can be very healthy to visit other churches periodically to remind yourself what it's like to be "the stranger."

Reclaimed Materials, Reclaimed Hearts

 

Are there things in your home you're not using?

My husband and I recently “reclaimed” a room in our house (whoa! I accidentally typed “hearts” instead of “house”…. hmmmmm) transforming an unused formal living room into what we refer to as the “communal dining room.”

Our vision for the room encompassed more than the dining aspect; we wanted it to be a place where a group of people could worship, have fellowship, and study God’s word; a place where we could share life. A place where we could sit down as strangers and leave as friends.

We wanted to use our new/old dining room – the more scratches and dents the better and so we opted for mostly reclaimed materials – pieces of furniture and accessories that had once served a purpose, but had become relegated to the “past it’s prime, no longer functional, out of style,” category.

If only the old pieces could tell their stories….How did the long gash on top of the farm table get there? Who decided that honey pine chair would look better with a coat of turquoise paint? What was served in that old ceramic pitcher with the crackled glace– iced tea, lemonade, well water?

This is what one corner of the finished room looks like. The "jelly cupboard" is actually the top to an antique sideboard.

 

 

 

As a former baker and owner of "The Dainty Morsel," I couldn't pass up this old cake tin – I wonder what types of cakes they kept in it?

The old Italian espresso cups were a gift from my grandmother when I was just a little girl. 

Aside from my car, I guess I have a thing for scratches and dents, bangs and bruises – I like the mellowness that comes with aging. Old things have tales to tell and I want to hear them.

My attraction to all things battered extends to people, too – I don’t wish them battered, but I realize most of us are. We need to tell our stories if we're to become useful again and where better to tell them than gathered around the table?

The Last Course:

 

One of the meanings of shared is “to take a stake in.” Have you taken a stake in someone else’s life lately? Are you willing to risk letting someone into your home, your heart, your closed-off place?

Eat, love, pray!

"It's not about the food and it's not about me."

When I was young I taught myself to cook and discovered I was a natural, especially at baking. Given my insecurities back then, this was like adding an extra handful of yeast to the bread dough – that sucker's gonna' puff up! Here's how I thought about cooking :

I prepare the food, people eat the food; they love it, they love me! It's all about me!

It stood to reason that if they loved me for my single layer Austrian hazelnut cake, they'd really love me if I baked a twelve-layer Dobosh Torte. Talk about ego; Showing hospitality? More like showing off. Plus I always had to outdo myself – what if my cake falls, what if I forget and make the same dish? What if they don't like it/me?!

Fast forward to 2005. I became a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and while studying the art of public speaking, I read a quote about the difference between an amateur speaker and a professional: the amateur takes the podium and says "Here I am!" The professional looks out at the audience and says, "There you are!"

Hospitality is basically saying, "There you are!" It took a while, but gradually I came to understand that you can  be a fabulous cook and not be the least bit hospitable, and you can be the most hospitable person in the world and not have a clue how to cook. I knew how to cook long before I knew how to be hospitable.

THE LAST COURSE: In her book, The Lady in the Palazzo, Marlena De Blasi says, "It's not what's on the table, but who's on the chairs."  Don't misunderstand; food and hospitality are intimately related, but sometimes we need to adjust our priorities. Great cooks and not-so-great cooks often share the same problem: pride and ego and can get in the way of connecting with others. And isn't connecting what it's all about?    

 *Some of my favorite people are seated on these chairs: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers!  

                                                         

sdfsdfsdfsdfsdfsdfs*Seated on these chairs are some of my favorite people: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers! *Seated on these chairs are some of my favorite people: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers! *Seated on these chairs are some of my favorite people: My husband Roger, grandson Tyler and granddaughter Alexis, who cooked dinner for us! Salad, cornbread and skillet stuffed peppers!

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