Subversive Hospitality

I want to talk about eating. It is something that we do a great deal of at Scargill: three times a day we sit round table as a community with our guests.

We have found here that eating together has been the place where lives are most shared, where joy and laughter can be freely expressed and opportunities to behave in a childlike way are encouraged! I think that eating together is one of the special gifts that Scargill offers to guests as we share our lives and welcome them into our home.

Eating together is one of the best of things. It stretches us, and I am not just talking about our waistlines! Eating together is not about entertainment or show. Eating together is about creating community.

Jean Vanier writes: ‘Meals are celebrations where we meet each other around the same table to be nourished and share in joy.’ And he goes on to say, ‘you cannot build community without wasting time together.’ There is nothing more spiritual and more human than the activity of eating together around table.

Jesus obviously enjoyed eating and it would seem that he had a particular gift at cooking fish. Being creative in finding time to eat with others is such an important part of what it means to be human. In fact, self-service could be one of the worst inventions ever with our own sachets, trays and prepared meal (Vanier says it could be like spending every meal on an aeroplane). Eating together, within a warm, accepting atmosphere, allows us to be real and vulnerable. Where mutual laughter can be shared and, through each other, we encounter Jesus.

In Latin the word companion literally means ‘to break bread together’. Whatever our tradition is to do with Holy Communion it is full of power and wonder as Jesus is both our host and our life-giving food. Jesus calls himself ‘the living bread’ (John 6:51). It is important to us that Holy Communion is the central act of worship as a community.

Whether we live alone or in a family, or as we do in community here at Scargill, let us dare to create space to eat with others; to share lives; to celebrate laughter and joy; fragility and tears; and share good simple food which will create community and transform lives.

spoons

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