At the Table this Past Sunday

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I wanted to share this picture with you. Garrett Laubscher happened to take it during the first worship gathering. It struck me in a beautiful way because I know that it all just, well, happened. Each Sunday when we invite members of our church family to come a preside over the Lord’s Table there’s no method to it. We just ask people to come, serve and see.
 
Look closely at the picture and witness an embodiment of grace. Standing at the Table is a picture of diversity uncommon for our city, yet possible. It is what the gospel can do when the Church allows the Holy Spirit to work, even when it means pushing us outward to the margins of society. 
 
In the picture to my left is our beloved sister and friend Sally, who leads CenterPeace and was working with some of us this weekend. To my right is a member of our church family, Mabel, an hispanic wife and mother of two. To her right is another member of church family, Frank, who when we first met almost five years ago was living through homelessness. In this picture we see lives represented by gender, nationality, race, sexuality, or social economic status all finding a common seat at the Lord’s table, placing these identity-markers in submission to that which is first important, our baptismal identity.
 

As society imposes upon us a logic of separation and distinction that tells us to which social categories we should belong, the church announces a different social reality. Any one can find a home with God and His people because each week at His Table we once again proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Lover of all. We have been joined together in Him as a new society and eternal family. We see it at the Lord’s Table every week and catch a small glimpse of it in this picture. Only the crucified and risen Lord who welcomes all could do a thing like that.

Today, Mabel told me that as she watched our church family come together around the Lord’s table in all our beautiful diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and stories:

“I was so overwhelmed with emotion that when I went back to my row I just had tears streaming at what I saw. I’ve been thinking about it all week and sharing what I experienced with people I work with. It was an indescribable moment.”

Thanks be to God our Father who by His Spirit makes us one in Christ and invites us to celebrate our differences, including stories of redemption and grace. I praise God for what he is doing in and among us.

May what we see when we come together in our Sunday worship gatherings open our eyes so we will grow in love, hospitality, and in our desire to see the wrongs in this world made right through the Lordship of Christ living through and among us by His Spirit.

Your bro,

Fred

The God Who Bends Down to Us

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A picture of Ian and I when he was fifteen months.

Hello WCC family,

Please read Hosea 11:1-11. If you missed last week’s conversation, Our God Who Won’t Give Up on Us you can listen to it here. During our gathering on Sunday we will walk thru Hosea 11 together. It is a beautiful expression of God’s heart for his beloved Israel as The God Who Bends Down to Us.

Don’t forget Israel’s rap sheet (remember, Hosea is a contemporary of Amos):

  • Israel is Hosea’s home
  • He was prophesying in the thirty years or so leading up to Assyria’s destruction of Israel in 722 BC
  • Israel was experiencing great economic and peace under King Jeroboam’s reign 
  • Nationalism and unhealthy patriotism was flourishing
  • A great economic gap was increasing between the rich and the poor
  • They had turned blessings into idols and valued the blessings over the God who blessed them
  • The courts of law were corrupt and laws and policies were upheld to protect national status and the wealthy
  • There was a breakdown of morality throughout the nation
  • Religious practices of worship were mixed in with the beliefs and practices pagan religions from surrounding nations, particular the Canaanite god of fertility, Baal (though “Baals” becomes it seems a catch all term for idols of various kinds)
  • Hosea’s prophetic ministry is very different from Amos. God asked him to live the tragedy of Israel’s unfaithfulness by marrying a harlot
  • God is portrayed as both a scorned lover and heart-broken father

As you read Hosea 11:1-11 tend particularly to verses 1-4.

  • What do you see in the text?
  • What picture is the prophet painting as he describes God’s relationship with Israel?
  • Given all we’ve discussed so far, what do you think God wants to do with the word pictures in this prophetic text? 
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Image taken from Theodore Rokas’s article “The Prophet Hosea and His Allegorical Marriage,” 20 October 2013, http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com; /2013/10/the-prophet-hosea-and-his-allegorical.html.