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It is a strong desire of Monica Short (wife of our Bishop, Mark) to support the spouses of staff in our Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn. A large part of the ministry of our organisation Anglican Mothers’ Union Australia (AMUA) is hospitality. Mothers’ Union has assisted with the functions that Monica has held. COVID-19 made us think creatively about the functions and thus, Monica’s idea of having a dinner party for male spouses in the Diocese via ZOOM® emerged.

Bishop Mark sent an email inviting all the husbands to a dinner. Mothers’ Union mailed out gift vouchers to the men that responded to our invitation. The brief was to design a menu, using the voucher to purchase ingredients, commencing with the first letter of your Christian name. Joan begins with J, and also James and John, and this proved to be quite a challenge. Things like Jumbuck stew, Jambalaya, Jelly and James Boag beer featured on the menu. Monica and Mark opted for mushroom and mince wraps and oops … Monica forgot to purchase the marshmallows!

During the dinner time was spent reflecting on a short devotion on hospitality, led by the Mothers’ Union Diocesan President, Joan.

After dessert, Monica organised a worst-case scenario card game where we had to consider various situations and choose the correct answer from multiple choices, such as what would you do if you accidentally drank some aftershave? Lots of fun and laughter made for a very enjoyable dinner party.

Hospitality: A Short Devotion

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift they have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its many forms. If anyone speaks, they should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things, God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. AMEN

1 Peter: 4:8-11

The term hospitality is considered by Christian leaders and in Church growth discussions as a vital part of the ministry. Biblically, hospitality is treating strangers and friends alike – something many of us find very hard. It is our sacred duty (as we state weekly in Church in the commandments – to love God, love your neighbour as yourself) to welcome others into our homes, our lives, our Church and our community.

In a COVID world, sharing hospitality, particularly in our homes and Churches, has presented many challenges. Social distancing, restrictions and also having people who are immune-compromised in our lives needs to be taken into consideration; hence we hosted a ZOOM® Dinner Party. Challenging times require creative thinking as we have seen with ZOOM® Church services and tonight with Monica’s creative dinner party and the offering of hospitality in a virtual world.

Usually, we would be meeting in a home, with all the usual preparations: a tidy house, and fine dining with flowers and candles, a lovely home-cooked meal, invitations sent out to guests, a relaxed and happy environment.

However, hosting a ZOOM® dinner party breaks all the rules of what makes for a good host.

  • The guests cooked their own meal;
  • We did not sit around a shared dinner table – face to face;
  • We had no warm greeting and hug at the front door;
  • And I sat alone in my dining room in my slippers.

Despite this, we shared a meal in love, taking the opportunity to be together as Jesus’ family.

Jesus had a servant heart, as we saw when he washed the feet of his disciples before they sat together to share a meal. Jesus’ love was so great that he took on the role of a servant.

Sharing hospitality isn’t about trying to impress people: people are longing to feel that they belong; that they are welcomed, they’re loved. If we can create a place full of love and character our guests will feel the warmth; people will feel that they can take off their shoes, curl up with gratitude and feel safe and loved.

Giving people our full attention is the purest form of generosity, love and hospitality. While we can’t taste each others’ food at a ZOOM® dinner, we can share our day to day activities, our thoughts, feelings and laugh together as we make new friends. Remember hospitality is connection NOT perfection, for we all fall short in this fallen world.

God’s two greatest commandments are to love God and love on another. To love everyone equally is a true sign of our love for God and our desire to live Christ-like lives. Hospitality is known as entertaining and welcoming of guests or visitors. It is a genuine way to show love for others! Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:40 that whatever we do for the least of people, we do for him. So let us give thanks and pray as Jesus prayed ‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in.’ (Matt 23: 35)

Please pray with me. We thank you, Lord, for giving us this opportunity to share, to enjoy fellowship, make new friends and to show your love and care for each other. Amen

by Joan Eberlé, Diocesan President of Mother’s Union

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