Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Bigger Table :: John Pavlovitz

A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz on Amazon

A Bigger Table book coverFrom Mark 14, "While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table..." Pavlovitz observes, "Chances are you know what it's like to be made the leper in the gathering of God's people. You've been pushed to the periphery because of some portion of your truth. You've been penalized for a season of your story. Or perhaps you've disconnected from those you deem unclean or unworthy or beyond redemption. Either side of this separation is equally damaging."

Ready for the upcoming major dinner celebrations of Thanksgiving Day USA and Christmas all over the world, maybe {hopefully} just in the nick of time for a planet that's becoming increasingly divided by institutional and individual politics, by ethnicity, class, culture, and fear, John Pavlovitz testifies to his own ever-expanding awareness of human diversity, his conviction God calls us to make a place at our table for all comers. His story begins in New York state where almost everyone looked the same, acted the same, ate the same food. Art school in Philadelphia and other experiences in the City of Brotherly Love opened the author's eyes and his heart to ways diversity of every kind celebrates God's presence and creativity—I'd strongly guess his parents' expansive love was the starting point. Pastor John tells stories of his encounters with differences, his occasional attempts to compromise maybe a little too much in order to stay employed.

It's commonplace that school in a different city or even in a different section of the same city can be a broadening experience for young people. Spending a year of school or service (Peace Corps, church mission, etc.) abroad in a different county and culture can change humans of any age! I've long been convinced making people aware of different styles of people, different ways of doing everything, different foods, and different music is one of the true gifts of a still growing internet. As long as you have a phone or a nearby library with computers, you'll see more and learn things you otherwise wouldn't have. Books always have been there (of course), but too many people never even open a book after HS graduation! A Bigger Table? Haven't you noticed how sharing a meal usually becomes a leveling experience that blurs what you thought were important differences? You know how people often open up about what's been happening as soon as their stomachs start to fill up? Because humans require food for survival—and almost as much, they need the belongingness and safe haven of community. Not simply for health, but for plain survival, too. So please move over a little, set another place, pull up a stair or share your chair!

Along your way, why not claim Pavlovitz' dream that everyone in the church and outside the church have the sublime experience of "Doing Church" as Jesus of Nazareth did: inviting, including, feeding, and celebrating all passerby, so everyone inside, and on the outside of the church will know how it feels to welcome and to be welcomed into a messy, hope-filled community.

Eating alone is a disappointment,
but not eating matters more,
is hollow and green, has thorns
like a chain of fish hooks
trailing from the heart, clawing at your insides.

Hunger feels like pincers,
like the bite of crabs,
it burns, burns, and has no fire.
Hunger is a cold fire. Let us sit down soon to eat
with all those who haven't eaten;
let us spread great tablecloths,
put salt in lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries, tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself from which we can all eat.

For now I ask no more
than the justice of eating. Pablo Neruda

John's site, Stuff that Needs to be Said

my Amazon review: Set Another Place!

Disclosure of material connection: I received a copy of this book from The Speakeasy with no requirement to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are my very own.

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