While I was doing an internship with a college ministry called UCM a couple years back, I went with my fellow interns to the house of Dr. James Houston. He is the founder of Regent College and is from the UK. He is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom & insight. He is full of grace, hospitality and a breath of fresh air.
The UCM director would take the interns every year to Dr. Houston’s house to simply glean from his years of living with God. We were welcomed into his home with scones, breads, jam & tea. His wife Rita (who is Scottish, so don’t happen to ask her if she’s from England, because she’ll definitely put in her two cents on the subject) busily made the lunch while we were in the living room listening & asking questions.
Now, when one becomes an intern it isn’t uncommon to know of the specialness of visiting the Houston home. I can recall former interns stories of Dr. Houston speaking prophetic words into their lives and of Rita’s wit & hospitality. You expected that he would speak a special word to you personally and walk away holding a gem. You also knew that Rita would shower you with hospitality. Both of which made me very excited to be apart of this day. However, our intern day was a bit different. In fact, it was so different that he didn’t really speak a prophetic word to anyone, except me.
He spoke of a myriad of things from Romanticism to the Psalter to real spirituality. There was a key moment in the morning while he was talking about our ministries failing when we peg them as our own. And as he was talking I asked him a question. You know, I don’t remember what question I asked him or even remember completely what he was talking about. I do remember that I was genuinely seeking an answer to this question. I remember wrestling with the idea of ministry and church and how that all looked. Through my questions & his answers two things happened.
One was this deep penetration of his eyes locked on mine. It was probably one of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced. He knew I was struggling and wrestling, so as he answered me…it was as though everyone else in his living room disappeared and I was the only one he was tending. He was showing me hospitality at that moment. He was unveiling a glimpse of what it meant to be present to not only your guest, but the person made in Christ’s likeness sitting before him. I felt completely loved and cared for by his attentiveness to me and my earnest heart.
Second, was what came from our question & answer. I believe he asked me what I did with UCM, which I replied that I oversaw Evangitality, which is the hospitality ministry and expanded a bit about what we did and my vision for the students (meaning opening up ourselves & our stuff to anyone we encounter, in order that they would know they are a valued person of the Most High; as well as, giving them a hope).
He then had this, “AHHH” sort of expression and said something to the effect, “Well, you must have come from a home that was immersed in love, parents married…” Of course, my answer was,”No, actually it wasn’t, my parents are divorced and it was hectic at times.” Then, he said, “Oh (pause), well then, (with a look of reassurance) it’s a re-DEM-ptive love, isn’t it! It’s like Samson reaching his hand into the carcass of the lion pulling out sweet honey.” With that he left his eyes locked on mine as to give me a sense of my worth and out of a horrible beast of a past, God can still redeem it for sweet, nourishing ending.
That day I walked away feeling nourished by his hospitality, because although his wife was busily making the meal and too many times in our world (Christian and non) we associate the food with hospitality. But the problem with that is I was not so much nourished by the food, grateful yes, but by the care, counsel and genuine love I was shown by Dr. Houston. I saw a glimpse of God that day, through his act of loving this downtrodden 26 year old. He spoke God’s words upon me, “You’re my redeemed!” What a beautiful, glorious jewel to behold. So as I try to intertwine food with lovingkindness, (which is hospitality to the nth power) here are some delicious scones to share with a friend or a stranger as you give them a glimpse of God’s heart for them.
Sour Lemon Scones (printable recipe)
Adapted from Baked. I have made some minor changes, as I’m always experimenting to see if I can add whole wheat flour. And I must say that everyone at playgroup said these were great. As my friend Biz said, “they were better than bakery-awesome!” The whole wheat pastry flour makes a softer crumb, so these scones are not as biscuity in texture, but still very good.
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rapadura sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cubed & cold
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon extract (use the kind that is the real lemon essence, not artificial)
2 Tablespoons raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. Whisk until combined. Add the butter. **The recipe says: “Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized.” However, I use my kitchen aid and mix to the same consistency and see no problem.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, and the lemon zest. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then gently knead the dough with your hands until the dough starts to come together. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to shape the dough into two discs (about 1 1/2 inches in height). Do not overwork the dough.
Put the discs on the parchment lined pan. Make a 1/8 inch indentation to make 6 wedges, but do not cut all the way through. Brush each scone with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes (rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time) or until the scones are golden brown.
Transfer the scones to a cooling rack; they can be served slightly warm or completely cooled. Optional top with glaze below.
Scones can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
1 cup powdered sugar
squeeze juice from half to 3/4 of a fresh lemon
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. You should come out with a not too thick and not too thin glaze that will be great for putting on top of your cooled (or slightly warmed scones, if you’re like me and trying to hurry out the door to playgroup).