For lent I committed to a practice of daily words. This is my journal toward resurrection. I love to write. But I have hidden behind fear that it isn’t good enough or my grammar ain’t perfect enough. This daily practice is letting go of fear and approval and offering words.
A short story continued from yesterday…
So, in your story, how is this meal served? How do we respond within this barren place and among these desperately hungry people?
In our imaginations, some of us have already decided to form lines…efficiency to triage the need. Let those who are most hungry eat first, or maybe it’s the children or the weak who are first served. Meet the needs. Prioritize. Do the right thing. But even in our best hearted attempt we have put ourselves in the position of judge and host. Our story hasn’t defined us as the providers. We too are among the people. Only given the pieces of the table for the moment.
Or perhaps our first thought is fear of not having enough for everyone. It seems an economy of scarcity drives such a thought…the question of “Will there be enough to meet the need?” is always in mind. Fear and self-dependency are the market of an economy of scarcity. And the practice of over-consumption by a few is never far behind. At the neglect of others, there is someone always determining who is most deserving.
Others imagine themselves hospitably serving the hungry at the table, providing a meal with a qualified few. Guarded by a wall or a fence to keep the others at bay. There are many who have been left out and others who were removed. It seems a desire for power and security drives such a thought.
Still others have struggled to imagine how this meal best served. So they hope to stand at a distance, to offer encouragement and applause. They are glad the provision is being shared, but not wanting to get close enough to get confused with the “others” or risk the chance of being trampled beneath the desperate crowd. It seems piety and pride drives such a thought…the labels of “the others, or them, or those” are always in mind. Purity and separation is important, even if simply to mask our own skin and bones, covering our own desperation with the garments of goodness.
How will the meal be served? Or perhaps we could ask it in another way, How is the grace of God distributed? The answers we so often provided have not met the need. Our economies of scarce grace have formed long lines of people still waiting for our approval, as if our judgement was righteous alone. Our ways of preservation and security have created a long history of separation, violence, and war. Our pursuit of piety and separation have only abandoned “the others” in spite of the need.
How is the meal served?
The people carrying the table are a people chosen. Not special. Not better. Simply chosen for the moment. Given a responsibility and role. Set apart but not separated. They are those among the hungry who have looked beyond the immediacy of want and picked up hope. These ‘chosen’ ones are gifted with a piece of a table that is useful when joined together with the gifts of others. Whatever words we might use to describe them…the Church, the confessed, forgiven, saved, selected, chosen, redeemed…we are describing those who trust in hope for a Father who desires to give good gifts to His children.
The meal…is the grace, the presence, of God. God on the lips of the hungry. It’s the only meal that fully satisfies. The God whose presence tells of his forgiveness and commitment. The God of life. The Father whose children have neglected their home, abused the land, wasted provision, and again find themselves in need of rescue.
The hungry people in our narrative are…also God’s people. Also, children of God. They are beloved. They are filled with the same breath from the living God. They live in the same beloved creation. But they are still hungry. They have yet to fully see and experience the feast prepared for them. They have yet to realize they are included and welcome at the table of God’s presence. They have yet to realize that life is the gift from God. They have yet to realize that no matter the place or circumstance…the meal of sustaining grace is for them.
In the Father’s world, the meal is served as the announcement has been made: “Let all who are hungry come eat.” People begin to take a seat, some quickly and others a little apprehensive. Both the preparers and the hungry find a place at the table. Every seat is filled with everyone who desires a seat. No one is left standing or left out of the feast. Full plates are shared around the table, there is more food than can be eaten. Being left-out doesn’t happen but leftovers are common at God’s table of grace.