Invitation to the Table

A year or so ago our church invited Nikki Lerner, a culture coach, diversity teacher, and amazing musician, to talk to our staff and worship team.  She spent the day talking to our staff members about multiculturalism in the church and that evening, some of our worship team gathered together to hear her speak about multiculturalism in worship.

I was a part of the team that gathered that evening.  We started off in a small conference room, sitting around a table and eating desserts.  There weren’t enough chairs around the table so when I saw Nikki and some other leaders enter the room, I got up and stood so she could take my seat.

Later after a beautiful, holy moment of worship, Nikki laughed ironically about how she had been talking to the staff all day about how churches often stick to the majority race and don’t cater to other cultures. Then she showed up this evening and there literally wasn’t a seat at the table for her.

Table 082316Without thinking I said, “I got up so you could have my chair.” To which she replied, “I didn’t see you.”

I regretted immediately saying anything.  I talk a lot, but I usually don’t want to bring any attention to myself.  I ruminate over things I say for days.  My heart still pounds when I think about the last post I wrote on racism. Can I use the word black in that context? Was I not considerate enough of other people’s feelings?  Who am I to say these things or make these assumptions or to stand up for things I don’t understand?

No one.  I’m no one.  But I’m not going to wait until I understand everything and live perfectly before I start standing with my black friends and family.

I learned a valuable lesson that night.

Imagine you were in a room full of people.  There is one empty seat at the table and 10 people standing around waiting for a seat, but you were the only one in the room of your race, or gender, or religion.  It is likely that you wouldn’t take that last seat unless someone offered it to you, right?  I wouldn’t.  I probably would still decline after an invitation. But that’s me.

Leaving an empty chair at a table full of white people is not enough.  It’s time that we, as white people extend an invitation to our friends of color.  Invite people in the minority to the table.

Being kind is not enough.  The one thing that will change the world between races is relationship.  (<– Click this.)

 

 

When I saw him from afar, I thought he was a monster.

When he got closer, I thought he was just an animal.

When he got closer, I recognized that he was a human.

When we were face to face, I realized that he was my brother.

-African Proverb

 

All Season Long

Christmas season is officially upon us. We are less than a month away. My Christmas shopping is mostly done. Each year I seem to take on a huge DIY project. This year is no different, but hopefully will take less time.

I’m always doing my best to slow down and take in every moment of the Christmas Season. I want to savor every moment of joy with my family, every second of magic and wonder surrounded by twinkling lights and glorious scents.

Christmas has always been filled with magic for me. Magic isn’t the right word. Not hocus pocus illusions, but wonder and awe and…

I think our speaker this weekend at church gave me the word for it.  It’s indescribable.

Ben mentioned that the word we translate as “indescribable” was used only once in the Bible.  It’s in 2 Corinthians 9 that Paul gives thanks for the indescribable gift of grace which comes through Jesus.

When the God of the universe became human… there just aren’t words to describe that event.

Why God chose to send his Son to die, so that we could live… the whole act is just… indescribable.

That’s Christmas for me.  I can tell you about the warmth I feel in the glow of twinkling lights.  I can tell you about the joy I experience when I see the delight in my boys’ faces.  I can tell you about the contentment I receive when I’m surrounded by family and friends in a number of get togethers that will happen in the next month.

But the whole of the Christmas Season; the magic of it all, is just indescribable.

So Ben reminded us to soak it up.  Chew our food, savor each moment, and enjoy it.

Christmas is busy.  Things have to get done.  Houses need to be cleaned and decorated, gifts need to be bought, wrapped, and given.  For me, savoring the moment means I’m going to view my favorite things about this season through the lens of the indescribable gift of Jesus.

When I’m decorating my tree with my boys this afternoon, I’m going to thank God for the gift that they are to me.  I’m going to remember how Mary, Jesus’ own mother, sat back, took in the moments she shared with her baby boy, and cherished them in her heart forever.

When I’m thoroughly enjoying baking Christmas cookies in my kitchen, I’m going to slow down and savor the moments.  I’m going to thank God for his provision.  Not only does he give me my daily bread, but sugar and butter as well.

As I shop for, wrap, and exchange gifts this year I’m going to remember the gifts that were given to a little boy that would foreshadow the reason he came to this earth.  And the ultimate gift that was given to me because of his life, death, and resurrection.

I am dearly loved.  And so are you.  And I’m going to bask in the light of that thought all season long.