A group of about 15 ladies recently wrapped up a four week study on hospitality using “Table Life: Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home” by Joanne Thompson. This group, of which I was a member, diligently read the book and participated in lengthy weekly discussions surrounding themes Thompson presents. Every week I walked away from our fellowship full of Spirit. If you as a young mom feel spiritually empty, find a woman seasoned with wisdom and sit at her feet. If she is busy the first time you ask for a connection over coffee or seems distracted when you catch her at church, try again. Not only will you benefit from her godly advice once your schedules collide, she will be honored and encouraged knowing her experiences have an eternal, multi-generational purpose. These encounters represent God’s design for female relationships (Titus 2).
Have you ever read a book concerning a Christian discipline, felt the desire to grow in that area, and then intrinsically recognized your perspective on the subject was forever changed? This gem of a book was the catapult of just such an experience for me. As Christians, we are habitually told our life should run counterculture. But did you ever stop to consider that means even your table life at home? As Thompson points out, “the word hospitality literally means ‘to love a stranger.’ ” I don’t know about you, but the strangers I meet out and about rarely receive an invitation to my home. For that matter, the people my family entertains are usually friends, people we can let our hair down with and relax. However, as followers of Christ, we are called to “Get into the practice of inviting guests home for dinner” (Romans 12:13, NLT). Hebrews 13:2 calls Christians to practice hospitality not only with fellow believers but with strangers, and 1 Peter 4:9 says we are to do so without grumbling. Weighty stuff. Why should we do so? To make disciples.
If you have been in church for long, chances are you have noticed not all those who walk an aisle, attend a new member class, or sign a church covenant make it for the long haul. The first ripples of discourse can toss them about and right out the front doors. Thompson encourages women to consider their tables as a source of reconciliation. Can you even imagine extending an invitation to someone in which there is strife and conflict in hopes God restores the relationship?
Our final week focused on the importance of acting on what we have learned, living the gospel. Another author similarly pens: “Discipleship and formation are less about erecting an edifice of Christians knowledge than they are a matter of developing a Christian know-how that intuitively ‘understands’ the world in the light of the fullness of the gospel. And insofar as an understanding is implicit in practice, the practices of Christian worship are crucial…” As God is stoking the missional fire inside of me, the beauty of practicing womanhood as Paul instructed made possible invaluable instruction from a seasoned godly woman. She cautioned young moms to hold steadfast in our diligence of table life with our own families as priority. She then gave godly counsel to all women, encouraging endurance and reminding us all of the need for healthy perimeters to avoid “compassion fatigue.”
The subject of hospitality is so deep in theology and in practicality that I can only skim the surface in a blog, but I leave you with a few nuggets, hoping to entice your inner student and whet your appetite for true biblical hospitality.
“Across the table, hearts made for relationships came alive.”
“Wherever you live, the Lord God has designs for your kitchen table.”
“A meal is not a church service, but the table remains an altar.”
“Your faith community is where taking the risk of loving the stranger begins.”
“The place where your table and the gospel story meet is faith…”
“The age-old afflictions of perfectionism and comparison handcuff our hearts from pursuing hospitality.”
“Hospitality…must flow from gospel authenticity.”
“Table life is no fairy tale; it’s real, practical, and rewarding. It unites the here and now with eternity.”
 Joanne Thompson, Table Life : Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home (Edina, MN: Beavers Pond Press, 2011), 48.
 James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom : Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Volume 1 of Cultural Liturgies (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009), 68.
 Thompson, 107.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 16.
 Ibid., 25.
 Ibid., 49.
 Ibid., 60.
 Ibid., 76.
 Ibid., 107.
 Ibid., 140.