During your holiday meal when you expect more people than usual who gather around your table, do you grab some "extensions" for the table to make it bigger? It is nice to have the opportunity to expand a table so everyone can sit around it. John Pavlovitz, author of the book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, shares about how Jesus "extended the table" to allow everyone to sit at it.
What struck me when I began to read the Gospel stories was Jesus' table ministry, the way he so often used the act of sharing a meal, the act of breaking bread, as a way of letting people know that they were seen and heard and known and respected. With great regularity Jesus used the common moments to incubate the sacred—everything becoming a sort of a living parable to illustrate the tangible reality of spirituality. The table was an altar around which he welcomed the world to experience communion with God and with one another...
In the times of Jesus even more so than today, the act of sharing a meal with someone was a sign of respect, of association with another—of one's willingness to be seen in fellowship... — Pavlovitz, John. A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community (p. 58-59).
Presbyterian Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Pavlovitz reminds Spring Creek of a vital understanding in the midst of what you have gone through not only this past year, but even years before-dealing with anger, misunderstanding, more talking than listening to one another when you had a separation with your pastor. [We have this] specific tension we are called to live in as we seek to create conversation where there has been silence, as we try to forge relationship where there has been estrangement. When we look to expand the table, we will invariably be pulled in all directions by those who are more interested in claiming ownership of our allegiance than extending grace to the other.
During our interim time together, I am trying to create those spaces where the table "is extended" to those we may have failed to listen you, comfort, understand, so all can practice the table ministry of Jesus, and view this place of worship and service as a place to extend grace and not claimed personal ownership.
Yes, this may be messy. Yes, it may stir up painful memories. Yes, it will require not only authenticity but all of us recognizing our space in this spiritual community and one another's space in that community as well. Will it happen after one meeting or one listening session? That would be outstanding, but it may take longer.
So let's remember the open table Jesus always offers to all as when we gather for communion, and let us put on the "extensions" of love, mercy, grace, compassion, and forgiveness as we move forward as a spiritual community of faith to create a bigger table.
NOVEMBER MESSAGE FOCUS
11/19 – Prepping for the Apocalypse: Extravagant Hospitality to the Family – Psalm 107:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Do you dread the annual "Family Thanksgiving dinner?" There are two little words that may help you to be thankful even during those sometimes "tense" gatherings?
11/26 – To What Church Would Jesus Belong? – Acts 2:42-47
People want a church that is true to Jesus, aligned with his ministry and mission. Would Jesus want to belong to Spring Creek?