The Open Table

It is an interesting concept, a hopeful concept that we participated in this last Thursday evening. We sat with a friend of ours in the living room of a couple who, like us, were United Methodist visiting and sharing together in small talk and chips and dip. Around the circle were others of varying denominational and religious backgrounds. One couple were members of a local Assembly of God church, another couple were Muslim and our friend of many years is Hindu.

          It is an effort by the Interfaith Alliance in the community we were visiting to promote understanding and relationship among those of diverse religious beliefs. It is a wonderful concept and effort to try and bring peace among the religions by actually getting to know and building relationships among all of God’s children rather than operating on assumption and misinformation.

          After we had sat for a time visiting and introducing ourselves to one another we moved into the dining room where we broke bread together. We paused and a prayer was offered as we prepared to share together a wonderful meal prepared by the hostess of our gathering. I thought to myself as the conversation ebbed and flowed from personal story, religious thought, chit chat… serious conversation and jokes and laughter … what better place to share together in such a venture, such an effort, such a moment of grace than around a table.

          In many cultural and religious thought, to be invited to sit at table with others is to be considered family; it is a very serious occasion. In my Christian tradition we still celebrate that moment of grace given to us in the Sacrament of Communion when we gather and remember Jesus gathering his friends around a table to break bread and share a cup of wine.

          I am glad for my experience, I am grateful for our friend who invited us to join her in this reaching out in grace and hope, that one day we might see others for the child of God they are and the common humanity we share as we continue to embrace our own understandings of God and life. It is reason to give thanks I believe.

          Around this table … it is one of the ways we seek to be faithful here in this place where you are one of the family; where there is always an open door, a comfortable seat, and a place at the table. Until next week know you are loved and that you are never alone.

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