Simple sustainable hospitality

Simple sustainable hospitality

When we read the word ‘hospitality’ in the Bible, we can add to it ideals of a nice kitchen complete with 8-seater table, spread with a lavish three course meal. But is this really the way we should think about hospitality?

Proverbs 15:17

Proverbs 15:17 blows that apart: “Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Hospitality is primarily about love not lovely lunches. This love was most clearly demonstrated when God welcomed us into his family by giving his precious Son to die for us. Hospitality is just extending this love to others. Eating together is only one way of doing hospitality, but may be under pressure with the cost-of-living increase. Maybe you’ve started to wonder whether it’s one of the things we could cut out to ease your budget? I think Proverbs answers that question – hospitality is about lovingly sharing the little we have.

One of my favourite moments of hospitality was when a friend popped over just as we were about eat. It seemed appropriate to invite her in, until I saw what we were eating. It was ‘special dinner’ which was a jumble of leftovers with ‘eggy crusts’ (stale bits of bread fried up with an egg and sprinkled with cheese). But afterwards she said it was one of the best meals she had eaten, because we were being authentic rather than putting on a show. Maybe that’s a modern example of a ‘dish of vegetables.’ The goal of hospitality is love, and we love people by sharing our real life with them, not by showing off.

When we started Globe, we would always eat together. We printed Proverbs 15:17, stuck it onto the cooker and looked for creative ways to make meals work despite the lack of facilities and venue. That ‘dish of vegetables with love’ gave birth to four principles for Globe catering, which can hopefully help us to show hospitality well. Those principles are: simple, sustainable, safe and secondary.

Simple. The staple dish was from my sister-in-law. She grew up in India and ate a very simple diet of rice and dahl. It is basically red lentils, creamed coconut, water and seasoning. Super quick and cheap, it’s the base for curry, chilli or other stews. Other simple, cheap Globe meals include rice-based meals (biryani, paella, jollof rice) and baked potatoes or soup (a great way to use up things!). These meals are gluten free and vegan which further simplifies things as you only need one dish for everyone. Email linda@globe.church for recipes. Better still think of what is normal for you. Better beans on toast with love than something complicated with hatred.

Sustainable. We can easily make a big hospitality effort, then need a month off to recover. It’s better to welcome people into your lives regularly, in a way that you can keep up. Regular contact fosters deep, faithful relationships. Banquets are biblical but they are for special occasions, foreshadowing the heavenly banquet (Luke 14:12-13). Sustainability at Globe means using frozen veg (no prep), tinned pulses, and a small rotation of recipes. Don’t feel bad if you always serve the same thing. Rice and dahl never got old for my sister-in-law (it was the reason my brother fell in love with her!).

Safe. This is one way we show love. Keep cold items below 8°C and keep hot items above 63°C for no more than two hours before cooling quickly and refrigerating or freezing. Wash hands, avoid cross-contamination, especially with meat and ensure food is thoroughly cooked. At Globe we always cook from fresh rather than reheating. This also saves waste as the food is safe for one reheat so can be given away, frozen or refrigerated for a couple of days.

Secondary. A loving welcome is at the heart of hospitality, food is secondary to this. We need to ensure that however we show hospitality, it is not such a strain on us that we cannot do it lovingly or consistently.

Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others. Hospitality is the perfect opportunity for this. Let’s keep it simple, sustainable, safe and secondary so we can love and keep on loving whatever our circumstances.