Reflections on Hospitality, Connecting and Gathering Together

A guest post by Janet Blatz.

What does my table look like?

As a single lady in her late thirties my table looks different than those of my friends, who are married and who may or may not have kids. But that doesn’t say that having meal at a table isn’t as important but, in fact, it may be more important than those who have a built-in community. For the most part my table would look like an oversized comfy chair accompaniment by the sounds of Netflix.

For me, having people sit at my table over a wonderful meal is something new and exciting. You see, for the past two years I had lived in an apartment that was so small there wasn’t room for a table. There wasn’t room for people to gather; to share their stories; to create a space where people come because their stomachs need to be filled but left with their hearts full. Now that I have a place where people can gather to connect and feel at home, it makes my table feel sacred.

Sacred, because the moments of being and listening as people share who they are, are moments we see a glimpse of Jesus. Glimpses of heaven and earth touching. Moments that are stored away making us long for the close fellowship that took place so long ago in the garden of Eden.

Sometimes these sacred moments and meals have started because of desperate need and longing for community but have ended wondering where the time has gone. It hasn’t always been easy but I know that the more I practice creating space for people the easier it becomes, especially with those I don’t know well.

As I am creating and dreaming of this culture of community and sacredness in my new home a quote that my Grandpa often said and demonstrated to me comes to mind – “Come join the table there is always room for more.”

Come join in. Come join in the conversation – the community that has already begun. Come and take a seat with us – share your story, your wisdom and your humour. Share who you are and in turn you will receive our story, our wisdom and our humour. We will take the time and effort to weave and graft who you are into the already grafted community that is sitting around the table.

There is always room for more. There is always room for more people, more stories, more food and more diversity. Not one of us is the same but we are all created by our loving Abba. His DNA is flowing through our veins; His DNA of welcoming in the stranger, the widow, the poor, and the fatherless – the ones that don’t have a community around them and those who are outcasts for one reason or another – the ones that are broken and ashamed because of circumstances that were beyond their control. You are welcomed.

Physically, my table right now looks like a plastic fold-up table because the real table is out in the garage being sanded with the dreams of it getting painted. The process of constructing a sturdy table out of an old door and some old lumber takes time, patience, tools and vision for what the outcome could look like.  I spent many hours stripping the 4 layers of paint of the door and sanding. Through this process, I have noticed and felt all the imperfections of the door and lumber. Some of the imperfections will disappear in the sanding process but some of them will always be there, but the rough edges of the imperfections won’t be. Through all of this I am dreaming and praying for the imperfections of the stories that one day will be shared around that table. I am praying that those stories will share the same grace and humility that Jesus shared with the lady who poured perfume over Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair – the same grace and humility as Jesus displayed while asking for water from the Women at the Well. I am praying that just as these women were forever changed because of their encounter with Jesus, that the holders of those stories will be impacted by Jesus and forever changed, and maybe, just maybe, they will leave the table feeling as if their imperfections of their stories are sanded away.

Janet Blatz is the Network Administrator at Forever Families Canada.