Here at Table Church every week we are experiencing the gospel in a living tableau as we remember Jesus telling the little children to come, and we challenge ourselves to mean it. And we remember what it means to honor our elders and challenge ourselves to realize that they should go to the food line first, and it will mean others wait, but they can be fed too, and there is a plate for all. And we sit close in the shape of the cross and recognize that we jostle each other a little, but we also serve each other with the body of Christ and the blood of Christ, for you as our hands, young and old, cradle what we share as we turn and face our neighbor amidst the timeless truths.
The most important thing I celebrate is how we are becoming in all its diversity and even chaos, the beauty of incarnational living centered in the good news of the cross of Christ.
Last night there were many things happening but just as I was about to lead us into the sharing of communion., there were folks at the door peering in. A man and woman and then two little girls, tentatively lurking, not sure. And I stopped to encourage them to come in, and sit and join us. We waited for a moment and without my saying much, people got up and made sure they had seats, at an added table, and cups for communion and worship sheets to follow as I reminded our now slightly larger group, on the night he was handed over, Jesus shared a meal with his friends. He blessed the bread and the wine and said, "Do this and know that I am with you."
The power of those words and our gathering spills over into our shared meal, and our time in community as we listened to a visitor tell us of ministry in Canada where pilots carry people to villages and share the good news, where one year the Bible camp was called FLY-Forever Loving YOU as an expression of God with us.
Earlier with our Bible Club kids we talked about this Sunday's gospel, the story of the ten lepers healed and the one who returns to thank Jesus and to praise what has happened. And we took time to write our prayers of thanks and our prayers for healing. The kids are so incredibly open and risk it all believing that we have a space where they can talk candidly. For this I give thanks and am in awe at the trust. As we believe that healing is real and learned that Jesus had already healed the men, even though not all stopped to say thanks, and maybe not all would go on to live faithfully. Because it is out of that love God has for us. Healing and blessing are signs of God's love for us.
At Table Church in so many ways it is evident that we are touched by who God in Christ is for us, and with us-you simply cannot be here and remain ignored! And I celebrate the beauty of our diversity and our challenges and our willingness to risk being authentic.
Being mainly introverted this takes much. The place too far is that we are not comfortable sharing our prayers out loud. But many will accept the invitation to later post them on the prayer wall. Or bring them to me. Last night, after some time in prayer where no one spoke thanks or prayers for healing out loud but it was evident that much was being lifted by the light of our candles in prayer, and in the inviting call of our music, we concluded to be sent forth.
And then came the one- the woman who had appeared at the door late. Wanted to hand me her prayer of thanks- Thank you that I finally have a home.
Just like the leper now healed. Who now had a home. Not only a physical home, but in Jesus.
For the woman, until this week she had been homeless. Now they had a home. And she wanted me to know how grateful to God she was for a roof over her head, just a couple blocks from the church.
Even more important, she had walked into the place where Jesus was moving us, and recognized a change. A liberation, a relief, and hope. And as I was speaking to her, one of our folks was coming to tell her about our afterschool ministry, and someone else wondered if she wanted food to take home, and one of our kids was telling me she is friends with the daughters, and yet another person said she had a lead for a job.It was exactly what had happened in the gospel- healing and thanks and restoration.
Community. Incarnational. Good news in the flesh. Experiencing the "with-ness" of Christ.
And I looked around again as they all were leaving- the gathered dispersing, the ones who know just how vital hospitality is, how much we need Jesus and each other. If we think about us, and if we remember that we have all been healed and restored, when we allow ourselves to embrace that part of us, the blessings God brings are beyond our imaginings. And every week I am profoundly moved to be in such a place where good news takes root in us and with us. Again.