Thursday, April 07, 2016

the table of hospitality (2)

The people who feel welcomed are the people for whom you have set a table of hospitality.
Source: Doug Paul, edited.

What does such a table of hospitality that welcomes others look like?

How do we set  a table of hospitality that is welcoming to aboriginal people? People who are unhoused? Men and women who live with mental health challenges? People who identify as lgbtq+? Those who live with disabilities? Youth?

I think of two small things that happen at my church:

First, occasionally we substitute the Kenyan Rite for the usual Apostles' Creed. This not only helps us to think more about what we are saying, as the words are not the usual words, but the Kenyan Rite emphasizes different things from the Apostles' Creed. (see more commentary on this, including a great example from a Maasai prayer book).

Secondly, we have held a Standing Stones service in place of the usual Sunday morning Eucharist. The Standing Stones service is a gathering of Aboriginal and Non-aboriginal People to explore God in an Aboriginal Context (read more), and is very different from what we usually do, both in format and in content. I hope that we will be able to repeat this experience several times a year.

These are small ways in which to shift and expand the table of hospitality.

Other ideas:
Ask people directly what a table of hospitality for them would look like. Ask what would make the difference for them between a table that is unwelcoming and one that is welcoming.

Work together with all parties so that the result is a table that is more hospitable to more people. If all the hosts are monocultural, you will likely have a table that is only hospitable to that culture.

Put pictures of Jesus as understood and depicted by many cultures rather than just the pictures of European Jesus that are already up in your church. See "forensic Jesus" as an example.-

How might food at church events, especially when catered, be used to broaden the table of hospitality and to encourage people to broaden their horizons?

Further thoughts:

Recognize the table of hospitality that God has set before us and for all -- that would be better than setting our own tables... yet, how do we do this?

And what table has he set before us? Or is it that he came to our tables...

jesus sitting at dinner table at someone else's house. He whispers to the disciple sitting next to him, "Psst! Sure wish I had my own house... that way, I could be sure the dishes are properly kosher!". Drawing by rob g

Jesus eating at people's houses
The Gospels say little of the years when Jesus lived with his family (or perhaps elsewhere?). But during his three years of active ministry, we regularly hear of him going to people's houses, sitting at their tables and eating with them, in their comfort zone. What does this tell us, aside from the fact that he didn't own a house of his own.

And where did he and the disciples eat while on the road?? Bag lunches and the homes of friends and strangers, I imagine.

Here's a brief listing:
Matthew 9:9-13
Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector and then goes to have dinner at his house. (also Luke 5:27-31)
Mark 2:15-17
Jesus has dinner at Levi's house
John 12 1-8.
Jesus has dinner with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, at their house. Dinner is in his honour.
Luke 7:36-45
Jesus is invited to Pharisee's house, and is anointed by sinful woman.
Luke 11:37-54 and 14:1-24 (two "uncomfortable" meals at the houses of Pharisees)
Luke 19:1-10

Jesus has a meal with Zacchaeus
Luke 24:30
the meal following Jesus' resurrection
Read more about how "Jesus ate his way through the Gospels" by Mark Glanville.

How in the local church might we recognize the table of hospitality that God has set before us and for us all? How might we follow Jesus' example?

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