Gathering around a table is an image which many have during this week. We think about who may be included around the table. We think about what might be on the table. We might even think about how many tables will be present, and who will be designated for each table.
Gathering for a meal was a priority for Jesus as he saw this as an opportunity to sometimes teach, sometimes challenge, and all the while advancing the Kin-dom of God. Those gathered did not always understand the possibility for relationship which existed around the table, but Jesus did.
Who are the people included around the tables in our ministry settings? Who isn’t included? What does this say about our priorities? And, how do these decisions stifle relational connections which would otherwise encourage creativity and collaboration?
Please consider the following: “Jesus was invited to a dinner at the home of a religious leader and noticed the rush of many of the guests to get to the head table. He also noticed that those invited all seemed to be well connected, religious leaders, family members, or wealthy neighbors. The Pharisees were watching Jesus to see how he would respond to what they saw as a compromising situation. Once again Jesus rose to the occasion and told a parable about humility and hospitality that must have shocked and shamed the dinner guests (Luke 14:1-14). Jesus was often found in the homes of, and at dinner with, those who were rejected by the religious leaders of his time. He refused to live by artificial distinctions set up to isolate, elevate, or denigrate anyone. He saw each person as a child of God, deeply loved and made worthy by his or her creation by the Creator of all that exists. The tendency continues even today to separate and classify individuals into categories that are often negative and demeaning. In our honest moments we confess that we too have bought into this system that says the head table is the place to be. And there are those who watch the followers of Jesus to see how they respond to these artificial categories that separate, denigrate, and elevate persons and divide the human family in unhealthy ways. Will we buy into the system and philosophy that says I want and deserve the best seat in the house? Or, will we really follow Jesus and take the poorest seat because we see everyone as worthy to sit at the head of the table as we are?” — Rueben P. Job – When You Pray: Daily Practices for Prayerful Living
I’m convicted by the memories of times when I sought the best seat, or even assumed that I would be at a place of honor. And I’ve learning that sitting at the table as children is the most memorable and worthwhile path to follow (Matthew 19:14).
Thank you for your willingness (and when you are unwilling, your effort) to expand your tables to include all of God’s children. When we encounter each other as kin through Christ, around the same table, then we experience the grace of God in both startling and intimate ways.
We may be surprised by the person sitting next to or across the table from us, but that is how the unceasing grace of God works. By surprising us again… and again… and again.
So, who is sitting at the table of grace that you have been invited to?
It is good to be gathered with all of you around the table as kin, re-created by the grace of God, and it is good to serve with all of you as colleagues in Christ.
I simply echo the words of Paul when he shares, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”
Gods peace to you all,