Soul Food Advent Blog Series 2018: 'Room at the Table'
Guest blogger: Jenny Holden
Bread and wine, aubergine parmigiana and orange squash, coffee and biscuits, triumphs and tribulations, body and blood.
These are some of the things I’ve shared around tables at Mustard Seed Edinburgh over the past few months. Some things very tangible that you can touch and consume, others harder to describe, harder to explain the emotions of sharing these things with all, all who are welcome.
For me 'Room at the Table' is not only about what happens around that table, but the invitation to join and be part of a community for a meal, for a season, for longer. Being part of Mustard Seed, Soul Food and St Margaret’s on placement I’m being offered room at the table, for who I am and where I am right now. It can be challenging, can feel risky and there are times I am definitely out of my comfort zone. But I am given room at the table on a level to every other person present, I am welcomed, encouraged and engaged with for being me and valued for who I am in my very being.
The season of Advent is a period of waiting, reflecting and hope, personally it is about reflecting back on the year whilst looking forward to the specific commemoration of Jesus’ birth. The incarnation is important to me, that love came down at Christmas. That cornerstone of the Christian Faith that Jesus was fully God and fully human, that God entered our earthly world taking on human flesh. For me it’s about thinking about being with and engaging with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Being with and alongside one another, those we know and those we do not yet know.
Recently I’ve been struck by two Christian hymns, one ancient the other modern. O Come O Come Emmanuel, based on the ancient plainsong, outlines what the incarnation, what Jesus coming to earth fully God fully human means: setting captives free, dispersing dark clouds of night, and closing the paths of misery. In All who are thirsty (by Brenton Brown and Glenn Roberts), all are invited whether thirsty, hungry or weak to cry out, singing Come Lord Jesus.
Having room at the table is about my place at the table as much as engaging with those others at the table. The conversations we have when we share food, drink and space together, facing each other not eating alone or staring down at a screen. Sitting at a table and sharing in the joy and challenges of being human, being supported and challenged in our actions, thoughts and assumptions. We are alongside each other, each of us bringing different things to this time of community, each being affirmed anew in different facets of our faith, being challenged on our behaviour and relationships with God and others.
Advent, Incarnation, and being given room at the table reminds me that I am beloved for who I am and where I am, no matter what has happened that day or is yet to come.
Jenny Holden is a third year student at the Scottish Episcopal Institute training for the Priesthood.