My heart first broke for poverty as I stood at the edge of a city dump in Guatemala. With Shaun Groves leading the charge for Compassion Bloggers my life forever changed. Five years later Shaun would hand the torch of Compassion Bloggers to his co-leader Bri McKoy. After years of entering the homes of children living in desperate poverty, of breaking bread with them, Bri found this connection of sharing a meal with people of all different backgrounds and races. She found that the call to make a place at our table was more necessary than we could ever fathom. She is realizing that the invitation to come and eat is more potent than she first understood. It’s a grace to welcome Bri to the farm’s front porch today…
Just over 2,000 years ago Jesus came to us. Came to be with us.
He exiled Himself from His home and did not count Himself too wonderful to not be just like us.
Swaddled as a babe in an animal feeding trough, not a crib, to parents who were fleeing for their lives. He grew up and started slinging truth, doling out freedom for the captives, and throwing open a door to life everlasting.
He proclaimed that He wasn’t here for the healthy. No, He did not leave his Kingdom for the have-it-all-together-tribe. He came for the sick. The shamed. The heartbroken. The just-can’t-seem-to-get-it-right people.
For you and me.
He performed miracles. He laughed with us. He cried with us. He taught us. He also did this curious and wild thing: He pulled out a chair in our homes. He took His seat at the table of sinners.
He shared a meal with us.
He broke bread with us and leaned in close as we chewed on our crusty loaves and forked away at our salty fish. He let us know, “You’re more than just hungry. You need more than just water.”
We shifted uncomfortably in our seats. We wondered quietly if He was who we’ve been waiting for.
In all of this the religious leaders asked incredulous, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11, ESV)
As if Jesus had been waiting all his earthly life to be asked this, he quipped back, “Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (Matthew 9:13, The Message)
And then after modeling for us this act of sharing a meal, this grand invitation to come and eat, He spent His last hours as a freeman at a common table. He broke bread and said, “Remember me.” He poured wine and said, “My whole life is poured out for you.”
Just like that, we cannot separate our eating and drinking from Him. He revealed Himself to us at a table. He whispers to us of a table yet to come, one filled with people from all tribes, nations and backgrounds.
I want my table to look like just a whisper of what the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will look like.
But here I am. Thirty-three in 2017. Living in a world Jesus’ disciples could never have imagined. High fences. High tech. High fructose corn syrup.
The call to invite others over for a meal seems small at best. Maybe even outdated?
Why ask the neighbor for sugar when I can have Amazon drop it at my doorstep by drone? Why open my door when I want to lock, even deadbolt, myself inside because the hurting world hurts too much.
What I really want to know is what my one small meal can mean for anyone given the state of our world?
What can my one small empty chair pulled out for a neighbor really accomplish?
This God-Man, this Savior of ours reminds me again and again as I flip through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that He came to earth and took a quieter way. This man who could have entered the world with all pomp and circumstance, He took a different path. He did not take a seat on a throne in some high castle, He took a seat at our wobbly chairs at our common dining room tables.
Maybe if Jesus did ministry on this earth at a table over a meal, maybe that is what He has for us too?
Maybe before God calls us to some faraway land to help a hurting people, maybe He is first calling us to our tables?
I remember the tables He’s sat me at over the years.
I’ve shared a table with prostitutes at midnight in the heart of the red-light district of Pattaya, Thailand. I was wild-eyed young and ready to shut down every bar with my fiery, waving fist in the air. The Thai women were calm and subdued. We sipped our cokes and I watched as each one got plucked from behind the bar. Until I sat there alone. Dismayed. And I asked myself for years after, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
I’ve broken bread with a girl-child on a dirt floor under a barely-there roof wondering why she was born into poverty and not me. She ate her small meal over the span of two hours and I wondered at her patient bites, her slow communion. A translator looked at my curiosity and said, “She’s trying to make it last the whole day.”
I’ve feasted with family and friends and neighbors. Toasting to new births and new jobs and new moves. Because God is always making everything new.
I’ve shared countless meals with a man who knelt down and made me his wife. We’ve laughed around the table. Shouted at the table. Come together at the table.
This is what I know, when the hurt of the world became too much…when all I could see was death and pain and suffering and I did not know how to help…I did not know where to start, I did the smallest and bravest thing I knew to do – I took my cue from Jesus and I prepared a meal.
With our one small invitation to the table we echo His one life altering invitation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20, ESV
This month we celebrate the man, Our God, who came to us because His love for us could not keep Him from us. This season we also stand with bated breath because it holds the highest suicide rates for our country. Depression on rampage. Sorrow overwhelming.
How is there this juxtaposition? This hallelujah. This weeping.
But there is also always this invitation.
Starting at our own tables is a way we can participate in taking up the cause of the lost and desperate.
It’s how we can start right where God has us.
It is how we go from overwhelm for a hurting world to overflow for the hurting.
May we fling open our doors to a vibrant and wild world.
May we pull out a chair at our table often, and bravely invite, “Come and eat.”
Bri McKoy is an accidental home cook, a gatherer of people, an obsessive smiler.
What a JOY her new book is, Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table — every page filled with encouraging, embarrassing, heartbreaking and joyful stories from her own table. It’s an invitation for you to begin, or continue, your own journey to the table and includes over 20 weeknight meal recipes as well as questions and prayers for the table to inspire you.
I’m telling you, for all those who are hungry and craving more of God’s kingdom in their homes, Come and Eat offers recipes, tips, and questions to jumpstart conversation, while reminding us that fellowship in God’s love is always the most remembered, most cherished nourishment. Because when we make room for others, we make room for God, and our homes become a vibrant source of life, just as He means them to be.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]