A Seat at the Table
If I were to start at the end rather than the beginning I would tell you that there was never an avocado.
If I were to start at the beginning I would tell you that every few months some of my closest friends and I gather around the table to cook, eat, pray, connect and intentionally be with one another.
This particular evening I was the last one to arrive. I walked in to the room to see someone chopping, another setting the table whilst another stirred the risotto.
These are my people and this is the night we gather.
These are the conversations and connections that I long for and wholeheartedly desire, but I stood in the doorway watching and instantly felt excluded. I found it hard, vulnerable even, to accept their welcome and their invitation to join the hub and the flow of the evening.
I had arrived late, I hadn’t set the scene, I wasn’t in on the conversation; I felt disconnected and I hadn’t even remembered to pick up the avocado I needed to make the salad.
I’m not very good at feeling excluded, it makes me prickly and defensive, which is exactly what played out as I put down my avocado-less salad and took off my coat.
The chopping, the stirring, the table setting, all were a delightful invitation for me to connect, to become part of the unfolding story of the evening. But instead, I picked up my coat and mumbled something about going to get the avocado that I had left in my car.
There was no avocado.
Instead I drove home with hot tears streaming down my face feeling vulnerable, ridiculous and utterly disconnected.
We now refer to this particular evening as ‘Avocado-Gate’ and yes, we do all now own matching Avocado green jumpers that occasionally get worn as we continue to gather around the table.
There is power in gathering.
I smiled and nodded as someone recently explained to me a ‘brand new’ concept to galvanize church growth and church planting.
‘Dinner Parties’, they explained. You simply gather people around your table to eat and to explore faith and life in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. They excitedly told me that there is such power in simply gathering socially around food to disciple people and then see their lives transformed.
I smiled and said, ‘If only Jesus had thought of that…’
Jesus saw the power in gathering. In fact, most of His ministry was spent gathered around tables and fires eating and talking into the night with his friends.
He loved to gather, but more profoundly, Jesus loved to invite; the prerequisite to every gathering is of course the invitation.
Invitation speaks of welcome and friendship.
It leads to connection and transformation; the very thought of being invited feels beautifully personal and intentional.
And this is exactly the heart behind the invitation that Jesus extends to us. It is utterly personal and eternally intentional. It is an invitation to come and bring our whole selves: our brokenness, our sin, our falling short. To sit at the table of scandalous grace to connect and be friends with Him.
We don’t need to dress up or put on a show.
God has chosen us.
We are invited, as friends.
“I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (John 15:15)
What is it about connection that can feel so vulnerable, perhaps often uncomfortable? Why can it can leave us feeling bare and exposed and have us running to the car for an imaginary avocado like it did me that night?
Why, I wonder, do we get caught up in all these self-protective behaviors that disconnect us when the heart of the matter is indeed a matter of the heart – our deep desire for connection?
What I do know is that Jesus soothes all our fears, our insecurities, our wondering and wandering with an invitation.
He invites us to Himself, just as we are.
We are not spectators, we are not late to the party; in fact, we are just in time.
We are no longer outsiders, there are no prerequisites, no things to tick off the list before we can accept.
We don’t need to bring anything or prove anything, no dressing up required – come just as you are.
I don’t want to dance around disconnection; I wholeheartedly want to choose connection. I deeply desire friendship with Jesus. In fact, I want to be the one cozying up to Him at the table, my head on His shoulder whilst asking Him to pass the bread.
The gospel is a glorious invitation into connection and friendship with the one who knitted you together and longs to sit across the table from you. An invitation addressed to you that is wrapped in grace and sealed with His own blood.
Jo is a Jesus follower, a people lover, and a book worm. She loves bright lipstick, big earrings and silence and her perfect day would find her embracing all three whilst reading and drinking tea. She is married to the love of her life and has two gorgeous boys who are named after hero’s of the faith – Hudson and Smith. Together, Jo and her husband lead a growing Church in Lincoln, UK where Jo loves to teach the Bible and see it come to life for people.
Jo founded True & Noble in 2016. Her heart is to gather women and see them connect over the word of God.