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Always Take the Cookies

I’ve had the privilege of spending a good bit of time in the Middle East.


I’ve learned a lot about the people and the culture and, let me tell you, there is no hospitality like Middle Eastern hospitality (and I’ve lived in the South).


I was in Jordan a handful of years ago under the leadership of an incredible guide named Muhanned (yes, I spelled that correctly). We stopped about midway through a long drive from the southern to the northern part of the country.


Muhanned graciously bought our entire group (about sixty people) barazek – Jordanian cookies made primarily of honey and sesame seeds.


I was a couple rows back on the bus. As Muhanned handed out the cookies, the girl in front of me, quite loudly, refused to take one. “Oh gross!” she said. “Are those sesame seeds on cookies? Ummm… no. Pass.”


I saw Muhanned deflate a little. He wanted to serve us. He wanted to give us – literally – a taste of his country.


I’ll be honest. I don’t really love barazek. I’m not a huge fan of honey or sesame seeds.


But I always take the cookies. I always accept the hospitality.


Now, before you think I’m simply being polite in conforming to the cultural norms, that’s not exactly it.

It’s that I don’t really love barazek – and I also don’t really love being served.


I’ve been independent for a long time. I’ve gotten used to doing just about everything for myself. I am terrible at letting people serve me because it challenges my prideful notion that I can do it all on my own.


Taking the cookies reminds me – in a small way – to embrace the love and service of others. It reminds me that there are people that want to serve and care for me. I don’t have to do it all. I’m not supposed to do it all.


I’m called to be hospitable. I’m also called to accept hospitality.


We, as Christians, talk a lot about the humility of serving others – as we should. Jesus came to serve – not to be served.


But we rarely talk about the humility of being served.


Being served takes humility. It means admitting that our time, our resources, our capacity is limited. It means acknowledging that we need one another.


If we can’t accept our need for others, how on earth will we ever accept our need for Jesus?


Serve.


But learn to be served.


Always take the cookies.

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