Soul Food Advent Blog Series 2018: 'Room at the Table'
Guest blogger: Crystal Cryer
There is a beautiful song by Jason Upton on his album A Table Full of Strangers, Vol 2.
In the opening line he says, “Every table is an altar”. This song is packed with profound meaning that challenges and inspires me - but this first line really challenges me.
The two things we know about altars: they are a sacred and holy space and they are places of sacrifice.
Maybe not how you would normally view your dining room table.
But Jesus said that “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matthew 18:20 The Message). So wherever we gather, whether around a physical table or a metaphorical one, it becomes a place of encounter with person and presence of Jesus. It becomes holy. The ordinary becomes extraordinary.
But what about the sacrifice bit? I think there comes a time when Jesus wants to invite more to the table but it will require something of us - discomfort, inconvenience, time, energy… sacrifice.
I was part of starting up a new missional community a couple of years ago. As all things do, it began small, intimate. And it became a cosy and comfortable space. Then all of a sudden we began to grown rather quickly. Now intimacy and and vulnerability took more work, greater discomfort. And there were some grumbles, some quiet resistance through a decrease in vulnerability and commitment.
Then we let God remind us that we gather “because of Jesus” as Matthew 18 says - that the table, that place of community is about Jesus first, not our own expectations and demands. But it is first a place of encounter with Him and how could we ever deny someone else that encounter?
That openness of heart towards Jesus created renewed openness of heart towards others and a renewed desire for others to know the sense of family and belonging that we had all come to know. So we made room at the table and we let the table be an altar.
The fruit of our table becoming an altar has been rich - rich in encounter with Jesus, rich in the joy of being part of other people’s journeys to encounter with Jesus. It has truly become a sacred and holy space.
It has also become a bit cosy around the table these days and it is sometimes difficult to find more room at the table. We are approaching another season of the table becoming a place of sacrifice as we make ourselves uncomfortable to make more room.
I am currently sitting in a cafe as I write this watching a mum and her wee girl at the table. It is incredibly sacrificial for that mum to have her daughter at the table with her. It is messy and her own food and drink have gone cold as she helps her tiny girl navigate the world of eating adult food. Her table is an altar - and it is beautiful and holy.
Crystal Cryer originally hails from Oregon, USA but now claims Scotland as home. She is the National Coordinator for 24-7 Prayer Scotland and loves being part of the wild, contagious and life-transforming movement that is 24-7 Prayer . She is part of the Central Church family in Edinburgh, where she leads a missional community.
Crystal loves hospitality, cooking, talking about prayer, the history of Celtic Christianity, all things Nature, exploring new places and cultures, conversations over coffee (or a glass of red wine), reading and all things creative.