Sunday Dinner: Let’s Resolve to Be More Hospitable

We are a month away from it all.

The tree is down and out, the fruitcake, ham/turkey, collards, and black-eyed peas are eaten, children are back in school, people are back at their jobs, and we are in the second month of the new year. Your resolutions have been made (and possibly abandoned), so I am offering you a new one: Be more hospitable this year. Invite people to your home for cake and coffee or for a meal. Here are a few biblical examples for you:

Peter suggested in 1 Peter 4:9 to “use hospitality one to another without grudging,” and Paul agreed with him in Romans 12:13, writing, “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Timothy said, “A bishop … given to hospitality” (1 Timothy 3:2).

The Old Testament also offers many examples of hospitality. Remember the three men who visited Abraham and he hastily summoned water for washing their feet, had Sarah make bread for the visitors, and had the young man fetch a young calf “tender and good” to prepare for his visitors?

I’m pretty sure your guests would be surprised if you offered to wash their feet, and they may not have enough time to wait while you slaughter and cook a calf, but there are other ways to be hospitable.

The most gracious way is to invite people to your home. Don’t think your house must meet certain standards; after the visit, the guests will remember little if anything about the size or age of your home or your decorating. What they will remember is the warmth with which you received them, the welcome they felt, the pleasure they experienced being with you and the other guests.

Invite people from church for an after-church lunch on Sunday, supper on Saturday evening, or anytime that is convenient. I haven’t done this in a while, but I like guests for breakfast.

The menu can include soup, meat or fish, a salad, dessert and after-dinner coffee — or it can be hamburgers, a fresh green salad and ice cream. You can put your guests in the dining room in the winter, outdoors in the summer, and at the kitchen table if the size is right.

Include some dishes familiar to your guests, and one or two that may be new to them. If you want to serve a dish you haven’t made before, don’t! The two important things are that the menu be attractive to the eye and good to the tasting.

When you are making your guest list (although this isn’t mandatory), try to have each guest know someone other than the hosts.

If you invite guests for cooking steaks on the back porch or patio in the summer, they will probably know to wear casual clothes. If it is for dinner after church on Sunday, then they will probably have on their “church clothes.” If the occasion is a rather elaborate dinner in the evening, the dress may also be more elaborate. It is quite all right for the hostess to suggest, or the guest to ask, what the dress for the event shall be.

Sharing a meal with others is a great way to start the new year. They’ll be blessed, and so will you — whether it’s Friday night supper, Saturday lunch, or … Sunday Dinner.