On Hospitality

Tiya Thomas-Alexander   |   August 26, 2022 

We almost always have a full home and people around the table. It fills my heart to the brim.

But it also exposes me for who I am: a grumbly giver.

I have noticed I can take the beautiful gift of hospitality and twist it into a reciprocal business.

I lay out a table, hoping for compliments in return. I count the hours of my labour in the kitchen. I wash the dishes secretly wishing for more help from a guest. I extend myself and I feel like I should announce it, make it known.

Hospitality is a one-way street. It’s being a sponge and absorbing messes. It is losing space, losing control. It is a service, without keeping records. It is loving, without plotting for its return. Most of all, it is a symptom of a joyful heart.

In our Indian culture, hospitality is such a heritage. It’s like a secret we carry in our bones. In Christian circles, it can feel like the right thing to do.  In both contexts, acts of hospitality can easily cloak obligation and bitterness. We may open our homes wide, but our hearts shrink with sin.

The gospel gives us a way out of our default.

The apostle John wrote about the time Jesus prepared a breakfast barbecue for the disciples (John 21).

Jesus set up  a charcoal fire, and laid fresh fish and bread on it. He welcomed his disciples on the beach, as they returned to shore from a long night of fishing.

“Come and have breakfast,” he called to them.

At the time, it hadn’t been long since Jesus had stretched out his arms and died for them. But with His scarred hands, once again, He served them. He revealed for all to see: The Greatest Giver.

Often in our home–imperfect in hospitality—we rely on this recipe. It comes from my mother-in-law, who loved to bake and host. It can be enjoyed warm with ice-cream on an evening, or iced with buttercream for a special celebration.

 

Ellen Alexander’s Midnight Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

2  cups plain flour

2 cups castor sugar

2 tsp bicarb of soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

¾ cup baking cocoa

2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in ¾ cup water

1 cup milk ¾ cup cooking oil

1.5 tsp vanilla essence

 

Method

Sieve all powders together - flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb of soda.

Add the sugar.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, add milk and then the coffee mixture.

Pour the liquid mix gradually into the powders - beating as you go. Add oil and vanilla essence to the batter and beat for 2-3 mins.

Pour into one round greased tin (or two if you’d rather not slice the cake in half) and bake for 35-40 mins at 180 deg C until the cocktail stick comes out clean.

 

Photo by adils photography on Unsplash

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Tiya Thomas-Alexander

Tiya is an Indian journalist and writer based in London.

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