Last week and today, I’m still setting the table. The law would have us exclude so many who need to come to the table, but Jesus came, extending an invitation of grace to come to the table, to sit with him, to sit long and talk much, to drink living water, and eat the bread of eternal life. If Jesus lived his life making room at the table for more – shouldn’t we? Whether it’s the dinner table or kitchen counter?
My grandmother taught me a lot about making room for more in her home and at the dinner table. After all, when my parents divorced, my grandmother and grandfather made room for my mom, brother and me.
Sitting around that table, I learned a lot about making room for more.
Muddy of the Corn Fritters lived her life making room for more. When my great-great grandmother came to live with Muddy, my grandmother – Mary Edna’s room was moved to the hallway.
Making room for more sometimes required uncomfortable sacrifice with a joyful heart.
When Mary Edna grew up and married, she made room for Uncle Deck when nobody else would.
When my uncle died, Aunt Joyce made room for more to fill up the empty, lonely places. She invited family and neighbors often to dinner.
I learned making room for more at the table holds blessing.
Mary Edna had strong opinions. At the table, we listened to her opinions. Year after year, she expressed her frustration when traveling family members would leave one family home hungry – because they weren’t feed enough to fill them. When they arrived at her house, they’d be starving. They would eat and eat and eat because no one had filled them up.
I learned to never let anyone leave my house hungry.
When I married, Mary Edna gave me her copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s book of Etiquette – the law for gatherings and behavior at those gatherings. It contained Rules for Safe Order, how to include and exclude, hedge-building to prevent social uncomfortableness. Yet, Mary Edna’s story gave me examples of how room had been made at the table for those who broke the rules, a way to redeem people and relationships by making room for more at the table. She might have been an old-testament girl at heart – wanting to live comfortable in the rules, but her actions bespoke a woman who offered a place of grace to those the law excluded.
I learned that while the law excludes, grace does not. Grace always makes room for one more at the table.
Amy’s book grandmother gave me talked about event living – not the everyday ordinary living. Yet, that is where the most important things happen – in the everyday ordinary.
Graduations might be celebrations of achievement, but they achieved because the graduate didn’t give up in the challenge of the everyday ordinary. Weddings might be extra-ordinary events, but falling in love happens in the everyday ordinary. Baby Showers and Birthing Days might be extra-ordinary events – but it is in the everyday ordinary where lives are shaped and hearts grow. Baptisms happen because of seeds were planted and watered in the everyday ordinary.
Making room at the table isn’t a Feast Day thing or an “event” thing like baby showers, graduation parties or even Friday Night Small Group Gatherings.
Making room at the table doesn’t mean more work, dressing nicer, minding the Ps and Qs. Making room at the table isn’t about showing ourselves off at our best. It’s about letting people come into our everyday ordinary – where the kitchen might be a mess, the laundry might need washing and folding, hand and nose print smudged all sorts of everywhere. That pile of shoes? The stinky soccer cleats someone left right by the door? Yeah! They’re there, too.
Perfect makes it too hard to live making room for one more at the table. God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He calls us to feed his lambs and sheep.
Making-Room-for-One-More-at-thetable-kind-ofliving isn’t just about filling bellies. It’s about filling souls.
34 years, 5 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandchildren later, what I learned around the table growing up was just a tiny seed planted that has become something so much more.
“Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9
I just finished setting the table for my series, Feed My Sheep. Won’t you join me next week to find out who God has given each of us to feed?
Click below for the rest of the posts in this series:
Feed My Sheep Part I: When Kitchen Living Becomes God-Radical
Feed My Sheep Part II: Living a Lifestyle of Making Room at the Table for One More
Feed My Sheep Part III: Which Sheep are Mine to Feed
Feed My Sheep Part IV: How do I Feed All these Sheep? (When there’s Nothing in the Fridge)
Feed My Sheep Part V: When Blessing is Invited to the Table