[quote]Once a month, give or take, for three years, and what we’ve built is impressive—strong, complex, multifaceted. Like a curry or boeuf bourguignon, something you cook for hours and hours, allowing the flavors to develop over time, changing and deepening with each passing hour on the heat. You don’t always know what’s going to come of it, but you put the time in anyway, and then, after a long, long time, you realize with great clarity why you put the time in: for this night, for these hours around the table, for the complexity and richness of flavors that are so lovely and unexpected you’re still thinking about them the next day … this is what the table is for. (Shauna Neiquist, Bread and Wine)[/quote]
Three years ago, I was captivated by a woman’s heart for ministry around her table. Shauna Neiquist invites the same group of women over once a month to share the warmth and comfort from their hearts and food. The discussion is controlled by the Lord. And though that might sound cheesy or unstructured, I thought it was the most refreshing take on women’s ministry.
Her women, or rather, her table, come together in the middle of their weeks, allowing community to interrupt their lives.
I walked on the lines of dream and envy as I read Shauna’s story. She was putting words to my heart and purposeful steps to my dreams. But I didn’t want the journey to take courage and intentionality.
Isn’t that the way it always is? Somewhere along the road of growing up and getting involved and serving here or there, we ache for community to just happen easily. We read stories like this one and forget how the beginning took courage and trust and diligence. Somehow, we don’t remember that friendship takes time to cultivate and we should always make room for second and third and fourth impressions.
After reading her story, I was convinced that beautiful things happen around a table. And I wanted to be intentional about creating a space for God to show off His beauty at mine.
Meet my IF:Table…
We’ve met four times and I love them to death.
Something about the If:Table you should know is that it’s not a study, but a time of finding God’s Word through the everyday life stories.
The Table is, as Shauna says, [quote]“the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished.”[/quote] It’s where we come ready for someone else to meet our needs. The Table isn’t a place to fight or defend, conquer or prove, but where we surrender our strong faces we’ve been walking around with all day and allow the Lord to love on us.
It’s the Gospel at it’s finest.
Our first Table was at my house.
I’m a hostess at soul. When it comes to hosting, I must have mason jars, cloth napkins, and flowers. With these, I’m in my element. But I also love practicing a lifestyle of an always-open-drop-in-but-there-might-be-underwear-in-the-bathroom-and–those-dishes-have-been-there-since-two-nights-ago kind of person. I gave in to messy living a while ago and trust me … it takes courage.
You may not think of yourself as a host and you’ve already dismissed this new idea of ministry. Your idea of hosting is going out and recommending your favorite appetizer to someone.
Or you love hosting, but the house or the kids or the dog or the room isn’t finished.
Maybe you’re a host who doesn’t like to cook. (Pizza for the win!)
Or maybe you’re a host and don’t know it yet.
Somewhere deep in me, I believe we all have a host side, we just haven’t felt the freedom to practice because our culture has created expectations and “if you don’t meet even one of them, don’t even try.”
[quote]Entertaining isn’t a sport or competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want—a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, you goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…
Focus on making people comfortable, on creating space protected from the rush and chaos of daily life, a space full of laughter and safety and soul…
When the evening and the people and the conversation and the feeling in the room are allowed to be whatever they need to be for that night,”[/quote]
…that’s what makes a good party.
Hosting isn’t the main ingredient at an IF:Table. Food isn’t either, however I always seem to talk more when I have food in my mouth and will love you forever if you put anything chocolate on my plate. Oh, and a table … be it an old coffee table you sit around on pillows, a card table you haven’t used since Christmas, or your dining room table that entertains old mail and keys instead of people most of the time.
The real and most important ingredient of a Table is you.
I watched the Lord do His magic at my table that first meeting. There were four questions about loneliness that brought our vulnerability up to our throats. It was a night that quietly brought depth and gently expected our stories.
This, I thought to myself, was real and good and brave. And I wanted more.
The IF:Table is coming to our women at Pulpit Rock.
We’re looking for those who want to host a table, those who want to attend, and those who are terrified to let someone into their mess.
My hope is that you would step out of your comfort zone and your schedule to see for yourself what beauty looks like when you simply come to the Table.
You won’t regret what you’re signing up for.
Interested in hosting or joining an If:Table? Contact Diane.