At the table with Jesus

I’ve been thinking about the TED video Leaders Eat Last that I watched yesterday.  It made me think about all the times I’ve eaten last in my life.  Of course there were times I ate last as a child – and when I served at church events or my mother hosted a party.  When I was a ministry leader at church I always ate last and sometimes the food was cleared and put away before I had time to eat, sometimes the host or hostess for fellowship time would ask, did you get anything to eat yet?  But most notably I would have to say that becoming a mother put me in the leaders eat last category.  And now that I’m a grandmother it’s interesting to watch this happening with my children.

And then it dawned on me – Mary and Joseph fed Jesus before Jesus fed the multitudes with his disciples. I know this isn’t a profound thought but it seems like one to me.  So often we think about what we can learn from Jesus’ life and ministry is during those 3 years where he did so much.

And this thought also makes me wonder about expectations that people put on children or even expectations placed upon new parents.  How often when we sit down at the table with our families do we remember Jesus?  Maybe as Christians we would answer that we remember him whenever we say Grace.  And while that is true, I wonder if we remember that he is present with us in spirit?  How would our conversations and service be if we were to imagine Jesus’ presence with us.  Would we sit down and speak with him, or would we be running around the table and back and forth to the kitchen, answering the phone, and all the other things mothers do.    And then I wondered – is that why he had that famous conversations with Martha and Mary?  Was he tired of people always running around serving each other and everyone instead of spending time with each other.  I wonder what mealtime was like for Jesus?  Was it harried and hurried?  What kinds of conversations did they have together?  There weren’t any fast food restaurants to run out to back then.  I think as a whole, life was less rushed, I think about hard working farmers and how they are a little tuckered out when they come in from working, I think about Joseph and the hard work he must have put in every day as a carpenter.  Perhaps people who work hard all day enjoy relaxing around the table and unwinding.  What about mid-day meals?  Breakfast?

I used to have people at the table with me for 3 meals every day.  Then my children grew up and I had people for two meals and the before school breakfast wasn’t always with all of us at the table at the same time – when they were little, yes, but by the time they were in the pre-teens, breakfast was scheduled around who got the bathroom at what time so they could all be ready for school on time.

Now, I have one person at the table with me for one or sometimes two meals a day.  I confess, my table is far too often cluttered with things and stuff of the day – my family will attest to this – I am always having to move stuff around and off the table before we can sit down to have a meal together, or play a game.  I clear it off – it stays that way for a day and then it’s a mess again, covered with mail, newspapers, books, and loose papers . . . I’m pretty sure Jesus would sit down at this cluttered table with me – and my husband actually does (Thank God!) but really – I’m going to make a more concerted effort to remove the clutter before we sit down together next time.

Mary and Joseph fed Jesus before Jesus fed the multitudes with his disciples.

When is the last time, as a leader, you allowed someone to feed you in body, mind and spirit?

 

Mary and Joseph were at the table with Jesus before Jesus was at the table with his disciples.

When is the last time you sat at the table with your family members or your team members?

 

What do you think Jesus would be talking with you about tonight as you sat at the table together?

 

What would you be talking about if you were at the table with Jesus tonight for supper?

 

 

 

Giving Up to Take It In (Fasting to Feast)

DoveAll around the world Christians and non-Christians are talking or hearing talk about this season of change that many churches have named ‘Lent.’  Traditionally it is taught about as a season of fasting.  As a child it was all about giving up meat on Wednesday and Fridays, especially Friday.  Friday Fish Fries got started this way – the fishermen must have started it, I thought, when I was a child.  I thought it was the disciples who were fisherman who started eating fish on Friday – the day Jesus died, maybe fish helped them remember him.   That was my childlike faith and since I wanted to be like the disciples I, like my family ate the fish on Fridays.

Then I grew up a little, and I heard the story about the disciples and Jesus after the resurrection and the fish fry they had and then I thought it interesting that the first disciples Jesus called were fishermen and how he said he would teach them how to fish for people and now he was asking them to feed him fish for breakfast.

Then I grew up even more and learned some of the purpose behind the season of lent and about purposeful fasting.  I learned it didn’t matter so much that you gave up meat, you could give up candy or soda or any kind of food and that the money and time you spent purchasing and devouring could be given to the Lord’s purpose . . . to the church or a family or person or organization in need or perhaps some of the money and time could be well spent on items that would help mature your own faith life, devotional books, calendars, prayer and thought journals.

Several years ago when I went on a silent retreat I was inspired to consider giving up my own attitudes and will to take IT in – IT being the Spirit of God.  Some people talk about having the will of God like it is so easy and natural – but it isn’t, and Jesus never taught that having a holy spirIT filled life would be easy or comfortable.

40 days of fasting in the wilderness is what happened to Jesus after the Spirit of the Lord descended and rested upon him.  I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you are in the wilderness, but this world has a lot of wilderness places where we can find ourselves alone . . . having the Word of God resting in our hearts can help us resist all the things that Jesus resisted.

So, if you’ve never fasted for your own benefit – I’m giving you permission to do that.  Not that you need my permission, but more that you need to give yourself permission to give up whatever you want to – an attitude, television, shopping, desserts, coffee, cream, anything and take the time to care for yourself,  if you need to do that – and you do – fill yourself with the loving words of God, “Come to me all of you  who are tired and weary, afraid, busy, overwhelmed, lost . . . Come to the Lord and allow the Lord to help you care for yourself during this season so that you can care for others feeling a little less pressured, forced or rushed. God loves cheerful giving . . . because God loves you he want you to remember that caring for yourself is a loving thing to do and Jesus wants you to love yourself as well as the Lord and your neighbor – you are in the middle of that equation:  Love of God + self + neighbor = the 2nd greatest commandment.    The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength . . . maybe give up doubt, fear, or anger toward him . . . toward yourself . . . toward other people . . .   let this be a season of letting the Spirit of the Lord Rest Upon You . . . .