Are we obsessed with our stomachs?

“An army marches on its stomach” is what Napoleon and various Roman commanders are supposed to have said.

Eating is a necessity, but there’s more to it than that. When we sit down together and eat something happens. relationship is built, so many cultures have seen eating together as an act of peace and friendship making. It seems to be hardwired into humanity.

Caesar K in Transformed suggests that we open our homes a little more to both believing and not-yet believing friends without an agenda other than love. He sights Jesus as having been labelled a “glutton and drunkard” for eating out and partying too much. The Lord’s Supper as the place of “common union – communion” which we are invited to share every time we eat and drink together where our faith is deep and old or questioning and new.

Eating is a rhythm of our lives. I was brought up to sit down for every meal, to engage with my family at every meal. no books, no devices, always at the table, three times a day. Very occasionally we’d have a tv dinner, extremely rarely (on holiday) we’d all read a book whilst eating. Eating together is a normal rhythm, so if we explore rhythms of  missionary living, surely this is an easy one.

Adding another place and enough extra veg or pasta or whatever for another serving isn’t particularly costly on any front neither is adding some fixed points to conversation around the table: “What were the best and worst parts f your day?” is one of ours, we go through seasons of small bits of prayer and we read the bible most breakfast times. For our family of 5 eating together is a rhythm already.

The challenge from Caesar K is simply to move a couple of steps further.

What if we were always ready to invite, build community through food together?

If you are worrying about what kind of cook you are, how tidy your house is, what people might think of your families behaviour and patterns… or something else that causes you shame and anxiety, stop and think where that thought comes from. Is that from God? the one who loves you, who likes you and chooses to live in you and with you? You might want to tell that thought to jog on…

There is no nicer sandwich than the one someone else made for you. We all love having food made for us, I am a critic of my own cooking, but rarely anyone else’s.  We love our parents cooking even if isn’t that amazing. what we all enjoy is invitation and love, if you can offer those to things and beans on toast, in a room that keeps the elements out, then i think people will appetite being invited in and if they’re rude, choose not to take offence and move onto someone who is ready to be welcomed.

But isn’t it a huge effort? Always having guests, always being the host? It would be if that was the plan. This is about inviting people into family, regularly. Not about putting on dinner parties. If someone asks for a drink, pint to the kettle or the cupboard with thegalsses in. expect people to muck in. Great conversations happen whilst stacking the dishwasher. Let people cook and bring pudding, they get to join in, thats what family does. we have a family meal for our community every Thursday night, we take it tuns to cook, Caroline and I take our kids up to bed and whilst we do the others clear up. People feel at home to ask “who wants a cup of tea?” without asking our permission. It’s family. Our family get t invite our friends and as we are all in the same whatsapp texting group we can check who’s coming and plan ahead, (everyone else on the group is much more organised than me!)

I dare you to simply ask God, who do I get to invite into my home next?

 Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people. Luke 14:12-14”