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Hudson pastor column: Build a bigger table, not a higher fence

Pastor Mike Roeder

By Pastor Mike Roeder, Christ Center Assembly

If you are more fortunate than others, it's better to build a longer table than a taller fence. In this time of random violence, dissension, division, disagreement and endless fear mongering taking place in the media, I think it is time to resist the urge to build a bigger fence around ourselves to protect ourselves, and instead, open our hearts and homes to invite people around our table and enjoy a meal with them.

I know that other people find other ways of responding to what's happening in the world right now. But I know what I need to do. It starts in my heart and moves into the kitchen and ends up on our table. It is the sacred act of providing good food, and then gathering people around a table to share it.

There is something so holy and healing about eating together. The very act of sitting down around food means that everything, and everyone, has to stop and be present. It creates a safe space for huge amounts of laughter and storytelling; it compels us to truly look into the faces of others. Sharing a table with someone has the capacity to heal wounds, broaden our understanding, reclaim old friendships, destroy tension, offer civility and creates new friendships. A table which is regularly adorned with food and surrounded by guests has more power than any policy or legislation, because the best and most important things happen there.

It is so easy to sit in the background and critique or criticize what is taking place in our community and our world, but it takes courage, civility and intentionality to be a part of the solution and create a better world. Christ-followers have a theology and a worldview for bringing people, even strangers to the table, and then sitting there long enough to be both earthly and spiritual good. We have a Savior who calls us to love our neighbors, to offer hospitality, to serve our community, and put our faith into action.

May God give us a greater capacity to focus on the ways we can build a more positive and welcoming community. May God help us to better understand what this could look like in our neighborhoods, schools, and churches.

If you are feeling fortunate right now, if you are feeling blessed, build that longer table and consider who you might be able to welcome and offer hospitality to today.