Eating With Jesus - Church Around the Table [Ryan Ashley]
Luke 19:1-10; 7:33-55, Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:8-10, Hebrews 13:22
Jesus “came eating and drinking.” If he had a “method of evangelism,” that was it: eat a meal with people far from God. And all through the New Testament, apprentices of Jesus are commanded to follow his example through the practice of hospitality. Something as radically ordinary as setting a table can create space for people far from God to experience the Father’s warm welcome into his family.
“Let’s face it: we have become unwelcome guests in this post-Christian world. Our children ride their scooters in neighborhoods where conservative Christianity is dismissed or denounced as irrelevant, irrational, discriminatory, and dangerous. Many of us go to work in places where sensitivity training has become an Orwellian nightmare… Christian common sense is declared ‘hate speech’ by the new keepers of this culture. The old rules don’t apply anymore. Many Christians genuinely do not know what to say to their unbelieving neighbors. The language and the logic have changed almost overnight.”
“It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of table fellowship for the cultures of the Mediterranean basin in the first century of our era. Mealtimes were far more than occasions for individuals to consume nourishment. Being welcomed at a table for the purpose of eating food with another person had become a ceremony richly symbolic of friendship, intimacy and unity. Thus betrayal or unfaithfulness toward anyone with whom one had shared the table was viewed as particularly reprehensible. On the other hand, when persons were estranged, a meal invitation opened the way to reconciliation.”
“In the East, even today, to invite a person to a meal was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood and forgiveness. Sharing a table meant sharing life. In Judaism in particular, table fellowship means fellowship before God, for the eating of a piece of broken bread by everyone who shares in a meal brings out the fact that they all have a share in the blessing which the master of the house had spoken over the unbroken bread. The inclusion of sinners in the community of salvation, achieved in table fellowship, is the most meaningful expression of the message of the redeeming love of God.”
Expressing the welcome of God the Father to all through tangible acts of love, ideally through giving food, shelter and relationship.
“Radically ordinary hospitality – those who live it see strangers as neighbors and neighbors as family of God. They recoil at reducing a person to a category or a label. They see God’s image reflected in the eyes of every human being on earth… Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom. They open doors; they seek out the underprivileged. They know that the gospel comes with a house key.”
“It’s good to be reminded that the table is a very ordinary place, a place so routine and everyday that it’s easily overlooked as a place of ministry… At its base, hospitality is about providing a space for God’s Spirit to move. Setting a table, cooking a meal, washing the dishes is the ministry of facilitation: providing a context in which people feel loved and welcome and where God’s Spirit can be at work in their lives. Hospitality is a very ordinary business, but in its ordinariness is its real worth… whatever it looks like, your own table is a sacred place.”
Simon Cary Holt