Initiating conversations is a significant part of my life and ministry in Japan. By doing so, I gain a deeper appreciation for Japanese language and culture and have opportunities to share God’s love. Inviting new and old friends to share a meal in our home has been one of the most moving ways we’ve found to have such conversations.
After moving to Japan, I learned that being invited into a Japanese person’s home is uncommon. The homes in our new city often lack the space necessary for groups to sit comfortably. So most often, people commune in public places, like restaurants. Since the door of my childhood home frequently swung open for guests, this came as a shock to me.
Laura and I decided we would bring a bit of our own culture to Japan and welcome to our table those we minister to and among. To our delight, our guests have joyfully accepted our invitations. Over the years, we’ve gathered for meals at our table with friends from church, language school, and other communities to which we belong. And as we receive physical sustenance in these moments, we also grow closer emotionally and spiritually to these loved ones, sharing our joys and struggles with one another. Breaking bread together is always an eye-opening event. At the table, we see Christ before us in our fellow travelers who share the journey of faith.
Though it was customary in first-century Israel to extend hospitality to a stranger that one met on the road, it is at the table with their travel companion that everything changes for Jesus’ disciples. Their invitation creates an opportunity for their transformation. At the table and through the breaking of the bread, the disciples finally see the Risen Lord before them.
Who might you invite to your table to help you see Christ more fully?
God, grant us the courage to extend hospitality to our neighbors and give us the humility to be changed by those encounters. Amen.