1 Peter 4:9

James Gandon on the lost art of eating together.

James Gandon
James Gandon

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9)

I am a great fan of food - I really enjoy eating a really delicious home-cooked meal. But more than that, I enjoy eating delicious food alongside other people. The joy of seeing others around a table together, tucking in to a yummy meal is fantastic. And what I love is that this hospitality is actually quite easy - even if you don't think you can cook, it's quite simple to find a recipe on the internet these days and just invite a couple of friends round to see what you produce.

In our modern society, I don't think we do this enough. We have somewhat forgotten the art of eating together. The stats say that far too many of us eat breakfast standing up, or in the car on the way to work, or don't eat it at all! Perhaps you find yourself eating a sandwich at your desk for lunch and then a piece of pizza on the sofa in the evenings. There's nothing wrong with this, except there is no sense of community around those meals.

Since the birth of our son last year, my wife Zara and I have got into the rhythm of eating together with him - three meals a day where we can. This means we eat earlier than we used to (like 7:30am, midday and 5:30pm!), but we also invite others to join us sometimes, which is great. As the old saying goes, food brings people together. But we also want to be better at doing this, inviting people to join us for food more often, which means planning, prepping and cooking good food in advance and remembering to invite people.

The theme of hospitality runs throughout the whole Bible from beginning to end. Jesus engaged with loads of people over a meal; rich or poor, well liked or outcasts, friends or strangers. And this is then encouraged by Peter in his letter: "Offer hospitality without grumbling" suggesting that we might find it annoying and be tempted to grumble! And in Paul's letter to Timothy he even suggests that those who are leaders must offer hospitality as part of their leadership. I don't think this command is there to make us always go out of our way to cook extra and cause a burden, but because the principal of offering hospitality means those who are hungry are fed, we share what we have, and the opportunity for conversation and getting to know people is provided.

So who could you invite round? How might you share the food you have around a table? CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.