Well, we missed church. Sort of. We had every intention of driving to Omaha to attend Darkwood Brew. Darkwood Brew meets at 5 on Sunday evenings. Unfortunately, I thought they started at 6. When I sat down at 4:30 to get directions to plug into my phone, I realized the error of my ways. Even if we got in the car right then, we’d be late.
Thank goodness Darkwood Brew livestreams their events. So, we logged on to the website, and watched the experience on my laptop.
Dr. James A. Forbes was the guest speaker, and when I realized he was actually there — as opposed to being Skyped in — I had to take a deep breath and regroup. I would love Love LOVE to sit and chat with James Forbes! The man is brilliant, deep, wise, thoughtful, passionate about the Holy Spirit, and a master wordsmith. I couldn’t believe he was one hour up the road from us, and I was going to miss seeing him in person.
As I said: thank goodness Darkwood Brew livestreams their events. I’ll be thinking about Dr. Forbes’ words for many days to come.
Especially this part: Dr. Forbes told a story about a ritual his mother had when he was growing up. He was one of eight children and, some days, it was difficult for his mother to keep track of everyone. At dinner, when all the family had been called to the table, and before the meal was served, James’ mother would ask, “Are all the children in?” If anyone was missing, James’ mother had the family fix a plate for that family member and set it aside to be eaten later. Only then could the rest of the family eat.
Now, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you but, in my opinion, the dinner table is a sacred space. As a child, my family had dinner together just about every night. Sometimes my mom would light candles in the kitchen. Other days we’d eat at the picnic table outside on our screened-in porch. Mostly, however, we just sat at the butcher block table in the kitchen, said grace together, and enjoyed spaghetti, or Banquet chicken, or fish sticks, or meatloaf. I remember nights where my sister would tell a story that would make me laugh so hard I’d have to leave the kitchen to catch my breath.
My parents have the gift of hospitality. We had guests often. When company was coming, my mom would set the dining room table the night before, and start mixing up a batch of Texas Sheet Cake. Even now, when I call home, it’s not uncommon for my parents to ask, “Guess who was here for dinner last night?”
When I was young, I didn’t realize what a big deal it was that my parents’ guests were old and young, male and female, red and yellow, black and white. They were professionals, and artists, ministers, and ex-prisoners. They were married and single, widowed and divorced. They were Christians and non-Christians. They were poor and they were rich. Everyone was welcome. Everyone was “in.” I’d sit at the table and eat food that fed my body, while listening to stories that fed my soul and helped shape my view of the world.
I thought the world was just like dinner at my dining room table.
My dinner table world, however, didn’t jibe with my church world. It took a while, but I soon noticed the lines we draw around our churches, and how they betray our penchant for demographics and target markets (which might really translate into comfort zones and job security, but that’s a different topic altogether). Decades after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed Sunday morning at 11:00 AM to be the most segregated time in America, not much has changed. Oh, we have our reasons, that’s for sure. Different cultures. Different languages. Different worship styles. Different traditions. All too much for us to overcome, we tell ourselves.
I’m not convinced.
Ever since I first noticed the disconnect between my dining room table and the communion table, I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with the lines we draw around our churches. And, since the moment Dr. Forbes leaned forward and asked, as his mother had, years before, “Are all the children in?”…well, I can’t let that go.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous statement about America’s churches in 1960. Do you think churches in America have made much progress in the fifty years since then? Am I overreacting?
Linking with Michelle and the Hear It, Use It community.