Friday, October 9, 2009

Who comes to the table?

On Sunday, my husband and I was invited to an open house in a sukkah, for the festival of Sukkot. In the Jewish calender it is harvest festival often called the Festival of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles. I had read about this festival, but never had the privilege of being invited to the celebration.

It took place in a "sukkah", a booth or temporary shelter built in my friends back yard. All kinds of wonderful food was placed on the table to share with family and friends who came by. Traditionally all meals are eaten there during the holiday and often people sleep in their sukkah. During our time there, the traditional blessing was given with the four species (date palm, myrtle and willow branch and a citron) were shaken in four directions.

What struck me was when Reb Moti said, "there is a belief that someday all nations will come to Jerusalem and feast together." Sukkot is a holiday that celebrates the harvest now, but also the in-gathering of the time to come when all people and all nations will gather at the table together.

That morning, at West Heights we had celebrated World Communion Sunday. It began a little over 80 years ago as a way for Christians to focus on the time to come when Jesus' prayer would be fufilled "that we may all be one." Our denominational differences would be laid aside and all would be gathered at the table.

Last evening, the Reverend Adam Hamilton introduced us to a man named Vincent who has Tourettes Syndrome. He came to Church of the Resurrection and sat at the back and would shout out the kinds of words someone with that syndrome would say. It was uncomfortable for many, but still they made a place for Vincent. Vincent is a gifted singer and became part of the congregation because "they were kind and caring and helped me know God. They made a place for me."

My mind is focusing on who comes to the table? Who is welcome, who is invited? What will it look like when all people will gather, from all nations, from all places, regardless of age or gender or orientation, or cultural background, or they way the look or dress or political affiliation. The image is not of a table filled with people that look alike, talk alike, act alike or believe alike, but for all people from everywhere experiencing the fullness of the Divine's grace.

I would like to believe I could live out that inclusivity, but I am absolutely sure I do not. So I am living with the reality of what is, and in hope of what will be in the time to come. With that hope, I am Graced to serve.

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