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The table. It conjures up wonderful images. From the formal Thanksgiving dinner or wedding banquet, to the informal meal shared with friends or invitation when you’re new in town. It’s not so much about the food, but about the warmth, the conversation, the connection we enjoy. But the table can also elicit deep pain: think junior high lunchroom, or awkward meal with conflict, or even, empty chairs. Sometimes the table communicates loneliness, brokenness, exclusion.
It is striking how much of Jesus’ life is told in settings defined by meals. When the Son of God came to seek and save the lost, he did so often in the context of meals. And his choice of dinner guests both surprised and angered the religious people around him. Meal tables define the boundaries of our community. And Jesus was constantly broadening and expanding the table. For Jesus, the table was never full. There was always room for one more. Family, friends, skeptics, strangers, sinners . . . all found a place at his table.
The table is a metaphor for the way of life all Christians are called to—not just the entertainers or extroverts among us. Entertaining gets in the way of true hospitality. This includes, but isn’t limited to hosting people in your home. It’s a daily posture of openness, inclusion, welcome, generosity. Extended to friends, family, and church, but also colleagues, neighbors, other acquaintances . . . even those outside our natural connections. The broken. The awkward. The stranger. Even the enemy. God’s hospitality knows no limits.
For the next four weeks, I invite you to have a seat at the table. Drink deeply and be satiated by the God’s love for you—this is His table. We’ll reinvision the table He intends—one where all can come to be fed, healed, loved, forgiven. And then we’ll look at how we can follow in his way—always looking outward, drawing others inward toward this love, giving generously of ourselves. But it’s not easy: we’re limited in time, energy, and resources. It’s costly. It’s uncomfortable. We’ve got to take risks, and yet be street smart. But the reward is great. This is one meal you aren’t going to want to miss.