February 6, 2015

Generosity and Hospitality

By Upper Room Books


December 3, 2014

A Prayer for Hosts and Hostesses

By Upper Room Books

Each devotion in my new book Room at My Table: Preparing Heart and Home for Christian Hospitality ends with a prayer specific to one aspect of a gathering: setting the scene, stirring the pot, serving up a meal, sitting at table, savoring the aftertaste.

I wanted to write—and share—a prayer for a host or hostess that presents a whole gathering to God, asking him to grace the get-together, from the planning stage to the put-your-feet-up exhaustion after the last good-night.

close up of hands and paper house with cross … read

December 2, 2014

5 Recipes for the Holidays

By Upper Room Books

These recipes come from the book Room at My Table by Evelyn Bence.

Breakfast Muffins … read

September 25, 2014

Make Room at Your Table

By Upper Room Books

Some readers are interested in the behind-the-scenes process of publishing a book. Questions arise, like, Who chose the title and why?

Though I wasn’t in any marketing meetings, Room at My Table was, to my knowledge, the third title suggestion for my new book.

I first proposed Be Present at My Table, going for multiple layers of meaning: as if I was inviting guests to dine; as if I expected all diners to be engaged in the experience; as if I was asking God to grace our gathering. In the plural form (our table), the phrase has deep Methodist roots. Though unsubstantiated, a story prevails that Josiah Wedgwood gave John Wesley a (Wedgwood) teapot imprinted with a hymn written by Wesley’s colleague John Cennick:

“Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored.”

Maybe that original title was too formal. Too static. Too . . . je ne sais quoi. But it didn’t make the cut. Next I heard, the tentative title was Come to My Table. I gulped. The invitation felt so wide, so open-ended, as if I, or any host/ess, might lose all control of the scene. A commanding come or sit might have worked for Jesus at the sea or on a hillside, but my devotional meditations weren’t proposing a radical welcome. And it seemed we’d lost the prayerful entreaty.

Room at My Table. The third and final title feels perfect. Warm and welcoming. Expansive but not overwhelming. It draws in Christ and—to quote Charles Wesley’s paraphrase of Psalm 98—“prepares him room.” Which brings me right to the book’s subtitle: Preparing Heart and Home for Christian Hospitality. To use a culinary metaphor, these meditations are seasoned with faith. Between a scripture verse and a prayer, I sandwich a personal anecdote that illustrates some aspect of food-related hospitality that concludes with an encouraging word for experienced or hopeful hostesses or hosts. You’re not alone in your outreach.

Hospitality has its rewards—and its disappointments. Biblically the role isn’t relegated only to the few who feel it’s their “spiritual gift.” We’re all told to “practice hospitality” (1 Peter 4:9; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2). Granted, some make it seem easier than others, but I’m the first to admit that it takes effort. For the most accomplished hostesses, a positive assessment—“a good time was had by all”—doesn’t just, poof, happen. It requires forethought (“Setting the Scene”), preparation (“Stirring the Pot”), and grace for the moment (“Serving Up Soup” and “Sitting at Table”) and can be appreciated long after the good-byes (“Savoring the Taste”)—as laid out in the book outline.

So here’s to practiced or potential hosts and hostesses looking for inspiration—not for an unusual centerpiece décor—but for a gathering that is blessed by God’s presence—from the grocery planning and buying . . . to the kitchen prep and dining conversation . . . to the debriefing reflection. Look for strength  in service. Make room for grace at your table.


Evelyn Bence, an editor and a writer, is the author of several books, including her latest, Room at My Table. Evelyn is known for her warm, personal writing style, and many readers may remember her Prayers for Girlfriends and Sisters and Me, Spiritual Moments with the Great Hymns, and Mary’s Journal, an award-winning novel written in the voice of Jesus’ mother. She is a frequent contributor to the Daily Guideposts annual devotional book.
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