Deeper Hope:

An Abiding Virtue

This book explores the meaning -- and application -- of Christian Hope. It takes the fuzzy concept of Hope and reveals it in everyday settings



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Meditation: Welcome at the Table

Surely Jesus believed that prostitutes were sinners, yet he welcomed them to his table. He ate and drink with them.

Surely Jesus understood that tax collectors betrayed their countrymen by helping the brutal Roman occupiers in his homeland, yet he welcomed tax collectors to his table as well.

Surely Jesus knew that religious hypocrites misrepresented Yahweh’s heart toward his people and laid heavy burdens on God’s people, yet he dined with them and invited them to participate in his Father’s kingdom.

Surely Jesus saw first-hand Peter’s temper, James and John’s foolish nationalism, even Judas’ tortured and divided motivations, yet he broke bread with each one of them, sharing his very blood and body.

Jesus welcomed everyone to his table. He welcomed the clueless and the cruel. He engaged the outcast and the insider. He shared his life with his enemies because he came to turn enemies into family. His method was startling: he ate and drink with them. Wherever Jesus ate, it was his table. He turned water into wine and transformed ritual into everlasting love. He turned no one away from his table.

He gave no one a pass on their rebellion or self destructive ways. The sinless perfect representative of God’s heart never lowered his standards or winked at injustice. Still, around his table everyone was welcome. He was no lightweight: if a moment called for brutal honestly, he fulfilled that need as well. He did not negotiate, he fellowshipped.

He set an example for us to follow. On his way to the cross he stopped to eat and drink each day, and each day he welcomed his enemies to his table. At the cross, he did what only he could do. At the table, he demonstrated what we can do.

He refused to let disagreement separate him from others. Jesus possessed the proper opinions, the right positions, and perfect perspective, but never--not once--did he use his correct standing as a reason to alienate other people.

Who is welcome at your table?

Reader Comments (10)

I see all of us gravitating more to "mutual admiration and justification societies" over the Divine written Word, spoken Word and the lead by example of Jesus. Matthew 10:32-39 is a classic example of the least used but most potent Scripture shared from the pulpit or discussed in Bible study. Pastors know that tithe and offering fall off when the congregation is uncomforttable

Rather than embrace the bum or ex-con to join in our gatherings in His name our deacons more often usher them out while ushering the more acceptable to their special seats. Jesus would not have appeared as one of the more acceptable as often the dust was heavy on His feet. Jesus honored each host with love as well as His enemies who did not invite Him to eat at their table.

Matthew 15:1-20 especially 7-9 seems as if this is still the predominant relationship within our churches.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Hi Herm: The only point I was trying to make is that the one person in all of history who was 100% correct in all his views still did not let his views get in the way of connecting with others. The fact that other people are "wrong" (in behavior or opinion) gives us not excuse to exclude them from kindness and fellowship.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Thanks Ray for the additional dialog. I am one who is not 100% correct in my views and still let my views get in the way of my connecting with others. I might point out that connecting must be reciprocal and I certainly hope the priests and teachers of the law who precipitated the authority behind the crucifixion of Jesus had not really connected with Him. If they had and still chose to lead their parishioners to murder God I give up right now on mankind. It was Jesus who requested forgiveness because they knew not what they did. How many of us don't know today what we have done?

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Exactly. Your last line is powerful. Great comment.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Who is welcome at my table... sounds a lot like loving my enemies. Hmmm. Good words Ray.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEd Cyzewski

Thanks Ed, and you're exactly right. I had the passage from Romans 5 in mind, but chose not to include it in the post, but I'll do so here: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Romans 5: 6-10

Grace and peace to you.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Excellent and Amen to both the letter and the spirit of this post!

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia Janson

Thanks so much, Marcia.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

In our Sunday worship gatherings I like to share a quote for the congregation to reflect on. This coming Sunday it will be this: "At the cross, he did what only he could do. At the table, he demonstrated what we can do." Thanks Ray for another excellent reflection. Peace.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Nickels

Thanks for your kind words, Chris. It's true, and worth reflecting upon--our Lord's everyday actions serve as examples for our everyday lives as well. Peace, indeed!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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