Our Church organises Bible study groups yearly, and this year Alice and I have changed groups from a Monday night to a Wednesday night. Partly because the minister who ran the Monday night group has moved on to a new Church, and partly because we wanted to get to know some more people in our congregation.
The group that we are in this year is a wonderful group of loving Christians. Besides being a group of loving Christians, it is also a group with something that neither Alice or myself have ever experienced in a Bible study before, a weekly meal.
Each week before we delve into studying the Bible, our leaders cook us a meal and the group shares it together. Sometimes other group members might bring a salad or desert, but it is our leaders’ loving hospitality which brings us this meal (as well as their home to meet in).
We’ve only had one meal together so far but we really enjoyed it. It was great to be able to meet together and talk about life while breaking bread, rather than meet together over some lollies just to get through a study.
I’m looking forward to our group benefiting from the generous hospitality of our leaders and growing together as a result.
Have you ever experienced generous hospitality from Bible study leaders? Share in the comments below.
Life feels hectic at the moment. Calum is in his first year of teaching and I am in hot pursuit of my dream of working for a food magazine. Amongst the tiredness, self-doubt, frustration, motivation and constant hoping I realised yesterday that I had completely and unrecognisably transformed into a massive stressed worry wart. It was not pretty. And do you know the first thing that popped into my head?
“Do not worry about tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:34)
“For I know the plans I have for you…” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Cast all your anxieties on Him…” (1 Peter 5:7)
It was a moment of (much needed) pure calmness and perspective. I was worrying wayyyyy too much, and not relying on Him who is able to keep me from stumbling. So I ate. I ate food of another kind. Food that fills the soul, the spirit and the heart. I opened my Bible and meditated on the words of Matthew, Jeremiah and 1 Peter.
I was amazed at how these last few days seemed poles apart from just 14 days ago when Calum and I arrived home after an incredibly encouraging week directing a CRU camp. We marvelled at God’s power in Jonah, told 50 kids the story of Moses, and exhausted ourselves with endless activities. There were no other distractions that week, we were committed to sharing real food for the soul with these primary school kids. Although we were absolutely drained by the end of it, I felt refreshed and re-energised from a week delighting in God and His Word.
There is nothing more nourishing, more soul-satisfying and more life-sustaining than the Good News of the Bible.
In early December, I had the pleasure of going to Narrabri in country NSW on a mission trip with the Sydney University Evangelical Union. Over the 5 days that we (11 of us) were there we ran scripture assemblies at the local primary school, helped advertise the Churches Christmas services and were involved in the Sunday services. I had a great time in Narrabri and I learnt lots, but what I was most struck by was the hospitality shown to us by the members of Narrabri Anglican Church, whom we were billeted with.
On the Wednesday night that we arrived, the Church held a welcome dinner for us. At the dinner at least 30-40 members of the Church showed up, including kids, teenagers, parents and grandparents. This was hugely encouraging as most of the key people at the Church came and welcomed us to the town.
That night we went home with our billets. The billets I stayed with were incredibly welcoming and generous, offering comfortable beds and lots of food! And the rest of the team reported similarly. Throughout the week all of us were continually surprised by how hospitable everyone was towards us. They were genuinely welcoming, and happy to share their homes and in fact their lives with us.
Through this experience I learnt a number of things relating to hospitality
- Hospitality isn’t just about sharing your house, in order to show love to your guests you need to share your life with them as well.
- Having a nice guest room is a great way of showing hospitality. I was so thankful that I had a nice bed to sleep on in a room that I could call my own for 4 nights. It was great to have the privacy and was much better than having a couch and a blanket. Alice and I don’t have a guest room at the moment but it will be one of the first extra rooms that we add to our home when we can. We’ve been convinced of how important a guest room is.
- The collective hospitality of a Church says a lot about the Church community. The hospitality that we were shown by the members of Narrabri Anglican Church makes me think very highly of the community of believers there.
I really hope that the example that I was shown by the members of Narrabri Anglican Church will influence our hospitality at home.
Yesterday was Calum’s birthday. I had decided to make this racing car birthday cake months in advance and was so excited about surprising him with it that I actually couldn’t sleep Friday or Saturday night. And the reaction was totally worth the lack of sleep, hectic stress-out over getting it exactly like the picture, and worry that the surprise would be revealed early.
This cake is from the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book and it is a treasured member of my cookbook collection. Since my sister’s 1st birthday in 1986 my amazing mum has baked all three of us a birthday cake from this book throughout our childhood and early teens. It was definitely one of the highlights each year to carefully flick through the book and nominate my desired cake. And I love looking back through the book and reminiscing on all those wonderful memories, sparked by the notes written next to all the cakes mum lovingly made us (“Alice 4th birthday” etc.). It is a tradition that I started with my new family yesterday with this cake (although Calum didn’t get to choose it), and one that I hope to carry on with our kids, that will create many more fantastic memories and carry on this cherished birthday tradition.
It never ceases to amaze me, the special memories that can be deeply bound in food.
In the last week of September Calum and I spent a lovely few days in Australia’s oldest and one if it’s most well-known wine regions, the Hunter Valley. We left home with two suitcases, little (if any) knowledge of wine, and a cloud of exhaustion after the first half of the uni semester. We returned refreshed with full stomachs, a palate for white wine, and some very smelly cheese. A foodie’s haven! Oh and the suitcases made it back too.
Snaps (by row, left to right):
Cafe Enzo; Calum’s delicious lunch of zucchini fritters with asparagus, organic poached egg and hollandaise sauce; chapel and vineyards
Tuscany Wine Estate and Resort
A morning visit to The Hunter Valley Gardens
Fun in the Storybook Garden at The Hunter Valley Gardens
Calum at Tyrrell’s Wines; merchandise from the Hunter Valley Cheese Co.