At this table – and so many others over the years, I have been and am being shaped into who I am and what I believe.
I’ve been thinking about tables lately… All kinds of tables. I see the kitchen and dining room tables at my grandparent’s homes, those tables in the homes of my childhood, the neighbor’s tables, and picnic tables – even the tailgate of a pickup. Each table is unique, each with character. I love to imagine the stories these tables could tell!
A few weeks ago, while gathered with family around the table at my uncle’s, I enjoyed a great meal partnered with laughter and conversation. Over table, amid the laughter and even in the infrequent silence, family stories were shared. Some I’d heard many times before, others I’d never heard, and some I heard with new ears. In the midst of the laughter and sometimes tears from these people I love and know so well, I learned… more about each of them, my heritage, and myself. At this table – and so many others over the years, I have been and am being shaped into who I am and what I believe. On that particular night, it became clearer to me that their story is my story – and my story is their story.
Reflecting on tables, I see them as extremely flexible – a place where not only meals are eaten, but homework is completed, discussions for vacations and parties are held, plans are drawn for family projects… decisions are weighed and problems are solved. The gift of the table – whether a pickup’s tailgate, a picnic or dining room table – is invaluable; it is a place to grieve, to celebrate, to think, to examine, to dream, and to explore. Each voice is heard. Each voice is affirmed.
So, what if the tables in our churches were viewed in the same way as our kitchen tables? A gathering place for our faith family to sit, perhaps share a meal, and listen – really listen – to one another? These tables… places to read, to study, and to hear the stories of our faith. Places where we learn about one another and how God is at work in our lives. As we share time over table, whose voice might resonate with our life situation? Who around the table might need to hear a word of compassion and love? Might we learn a bit more about who we are? What stories of faith might we hear? In which face do we see Jesus?
Around the table… over table… sharing stories – our story and God’s story – we are shaped. Our voices are heard, and our gifts are affirmed. We grow in our knowing of what it means to be a member of God’s family.