I saw her sitting alone, drinking a can of Ensure. Her dark hair was long and straight and hung down her back to her waist. When she did look up, she peered out from under unwashed bangs through a pair of filmy glasses.
As I made my way to her table I scanned the lunchroom for familiar faces, but saw none. Nervously carrying my tray, I walked over to her table and asked if I could sit down. A shy smile flashed across her face, and she nodded.
Every day for a year my quiet friend and I shared a lunch table. Some days we ate in near silence, listening to the buzz of 300 other conversations going on around us. It’s been years, and while I don’t remember her name, I remember how hard it was to approach a stranger, to risk rejection, to ask to be welcomed.
Various events in my life and in the world over the last couple of years have forced me to consider what it looks like to love like Jesus loves, to love my neighbor as myself, and what exactly it means to “show hospitality.”
Love is a verb. It’s also a biblical command.
It’s easier to hold some people at arms length, or duck out of reach because of fear of what loving them might cost us: Our reputation? Our friends? Our spheres of influence? Our opportunities? We can spend more time worrying about how to practice hospitality than doing it at all. We’re fighting the fear. We’re embracing #bravehospitality.
A closer look into the scriptures reveals that loving like Jesus loves, loving strangers, is costly, and sometimes, it’s uncomfortable. But we have to ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor? Who are the strangers I have failed to show hospitality to?”
Our neighborhood reaches far beyond our zip code. Our hospitality, our love for others, also must extend beyond our doorstep.
My shy lunchroom friend showed me, a stranger, hospitality that day. It was grace at her table.
We’ve all been on one side or the other of that lunchroom table. GraceTable is us saying “yes” to friends we maybe haven’t met yet, friends who are walking around with their lunch trays looking for a place to sit. This is us putting away our fear and our preconceived notions as we scoot over and say, “I don’t know your story, but I’d like to.” We’re learning how to practice brave hospitality–which is, to love strangers.
GraceTable is a safe space for conversation. This is a place to talk about the intersection of food and faith and how the practice of hospitality is less about what you serve and more about that you serve. GraceTable is a space where there are always enough seats, always enough food, and always grace. We are people who want to love across our comfort zones.
We know we won’t do it perfectly. We know it won’t always be easy. We’re okay with that because we know that when you lay down your life for your brother, there is no greater love.
We want to love greatly.
We believe that loving others is powerful–that love can bridge gaps that we otherwise don’t know how to cross. We like to call GraceTable our virtual soup kitchen. We’re here to feed and be fed. We’re here to tell our honest stories and occasionally offer a recipe. We want to share some resources to help you love greatly and hope that you’ll come away from the table inspired and encouraged.
Welcome to the table.
To celebrate our launch, we have put together a bundle of goodies for you. ONE winner will receive everything pictured here.
(This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Our sincerest apologies to our international friends.)
1. A copy of Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
2. Set of 4 burlap placemats from Mary & Martha
3. Coffee and spoon from Mary & Martha
4. “The Best of Life is at the Table” journal
5. Pack of blank recipe cards
6. “He is Good” print from Kristin Schmucker