Soul Food Advent Blog Series 2018: 'Room at the Table'
Guest blogger: Anna Robinson
Long before I became a Christian, my curiosity was piqued by the life and person of Jesus. I was intrigued by this wild messiah.
One thing I couldn’t quite understand, though, was how this same Jesus had become the sanitised Jesus of suburbia, the one surrounded by lambs and children depicted on stained-glass windows of every church I knew. I didn’t know the Bible very well, but somehow this stained-glass-Jesus didn’t quite tally with the Jesus I was beginning to read about in the gospels. It seemed like there were two versions of Jesus, and I was repelled by one version and captivated by the other. I’ll leave you to guess which was which.
I was fascinated with this God who created the world and yet chose to leave heaven behind to become God with us.
I came to realise that Jesus wasn’t the removed, insipid figure our stained-glass windows would have us believe. Yes, he was fully God, but he was also fully human – flesh and blood. He put on skin, became one of us, and moved into the neighbourhood. To be with us.
At Christmas, we celebrate this God of heaven coming as a fragile, vulnerable, helpless baby. This God-with-us was born, not in a shiny palace, nor even in the comforts of home. But amongst cattle and sheep in a shabby stable with urine-sodden hay and manure-covered floor. God-with-us, wrapped in a manger.
He is not God-half-with-us, half dipping his toes into humanity whilst being born in a fancy hotel suite. He is not God-sometimes-with-us, sometimes present and sometimes not, depending on how he’s feeling that day. He is God with us. Fully. Always. 100%. In the chaos, the beauty, the mess, the triumph and the squalor of humanity.
From babe curled up in a manger to man stretched out wide on a cross, he has always been, and always will be, God with us.
Whether in pain, sorrow or joy, he is God with us.
And this God offers us a seat at his table.
To sit at a table is to be with someone. The table is a place of intimacy, where we sit side-by-side, eye-to-eye, and offer ourselves to each other.
And so it’s no surprise that in the gospels, Jesus is often found around the table, inviting others to be with him, to join him. At his table, all are welcome.
At the table of Jesus – this “great equalizer’ – outsiders become insiders. Strangers become family. Jesus’ family wasn’t his wife and 1.7 kids. His family was the tax collector, the prostitute, the “sinner”. They were drawn to the same Jesus I was drawn to, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the stained-glass version.
Maybe you’re acutely aware of your need for a seat at Jesus’ table. Maybe you’ve become over-familiar with the wonder of sitting at the table with the King of Kings. Maybe you don’t yet know this wild messiah who has a seat at the table with your name on it.
Whoever we are, God-with-us invites us to come, to be with him.
Anna Robinson lives in Edinburgh and is passionate about making Jesus real and accessible to those around her. She’s married to Rich and has three fantastic kids.