Okay, so this isn’t the savoriest looking grouping of food items, but I’m telling you, homemade chicken stock is pretty amazing once you strain everything out, leaving only the rich flavors distinct to herbs and spices like thyme, coriander, cumin, and parsley, along with vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery. And of course when you’ve got in your possession a whole chicken from Weldon of Emerald Farms (a regular at the Nashville Farmer’s Market), you have everything you need for a flavorful soup just pleading for mexican rice, fresh avocados and pico de gallo. Chips and salsa if you’re remotely human.

So this meal that begun with a spark of inspiration to warm myself on a damp and chilly Nashville Sunday turned into the center of a large gathering around my table that night after church. I had no intentions of having anyone over, especially as piles of clothes were creeping out of my luggage I had yet to unpack from the weekend, while stacks of mail and boxes of books towered in a couple corners (I tend to like clean – especially when people are coming over). But the soup! I had to have people over for the soup. And so several of my friends – some of whom I haven’t seen in such a long while – spontaneously swung by after the service. And when I say ‘swung’ I mean stayed for four hours talking about everything from Asian art to what authentic Christianity looks like, sans the religious trappings. We had compelling conversations about the poor, addiction, our own places of sin and selfishness. And we ate cookies… We had some of the most honest and refreshing conversations I’ve had in a long while, and though I am certain the soup will not be remembered, it was what got everyone there.

So I’m advocating having a meal at your house. And if you’ve got the time make it yourself, because there’s something about making selections at the grocery store or farmer’s market, washing, slicing, cutting, savoring the smells that is part of preparation. Preparation for who God will bring together around your creation and what He will do in the conversations. Fellowship, or sharing of faith, is the richest of blessings, “so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 1:6). So make a meal and invite some people over. Maybe even invite someone on the ‘fringe’ who might not often get an invitation, or someone you haven’t seen in a while. It’s as simple as throwing a whole chicken in a pot and asking some people over – and don’t let the piles or exposed laundry stop you. If you’ve got a big enough plate of cookies no one will remember you’re not perfectly imaculate anyway.