Friday, February 27, 2015

Kingdom Dining

One of Abbey's photos from our community dinner

I had originally title this post "Dinner With Friends" and intended to share it several days ago, but as He sometimes does, the Holy Spirit prompted me to delay so He could solidity the lesson even more.

As I've previously mentioned, every Saturday in a Mission Year, the team hangs out in their neighborhood and builds community with their neighbors. They also invite their neighbors and friends to have dinner with them. The menu during my visit was Lindi's delicious Tomato Basil Soup and Brent made some tasty oven-grilled cheese sandwiches. I pitched in a big salad purchased at the local NuWaters Co-op which is making healthy, local grown options available in a neighborhood where fresh produce is hard to come by.

Seated around the table were 15 people, most of whom only met within the previous day or two and even the Eight at the core of the group have only been together since early September...but it felt like home.

There were soon-to-be college kids, mastered-degreed young adults, empty-nester moms, friends from former church connections, a neighbor and me. Some are married, some divorced, and some remarried or single. We're not only all from different backgrounds and have varying skin tones, but the geographical backdrops didn't go unnoticed by me. Upstate New York, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and my own Kentucky home were all represented around the three tables squished together to seat all 15 of us.

And as I tried to remember to see through Kingdom eyes, I heard that Whisper say, "I'm giving you just a glimpse of the Banquet I'm preparing for all of you." I don't know if I've ever experienced the Lord's Table before that night, and I did fleetingly think of asking them if we could have communion together. I wish I'd spoken up, because I know I felt the perfection of the moment when Jesus Himself was sitting there with us.

What was the reason for delaying this post? Well, apparently the Holy Spirit prompted the same observation in my daughter. She wrote about it in her February newsletter

Oh...but God is so good that He gave me even one more example.

Serving dinner at ESNKY in January

Our church partners with Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky to provide life-saving overnight housing for 12 men when temperatures drop below 15 degrees and their shelter is overflowing with people seeking aid. They are supposed to house 40, but Monday night when temperatures were below zero, we housed 12, Mother of God church (also a temporary overflow site) had 12 and ESNKY housed 90 souls. [We fed the 12 men at our place and about 70 at ESNKY.] One of our volunteers stepped on a man's hand trying to walk through the hallway because bodies lined both sides of the already narrow space. Whoever says, "I don't see the homeless, so the problem must not be that bad," needs to take a trip down to Scott Street on a single-digit night and observe the line down the block, just to get in the door.

Part of our Homeless Hosting set-up in January

My friend heads up our church's team of over 100 volunteers that share responsibility for hosting, feeding, driving and providing hospitality to these 12 men. So far this winter, we've done this five different weeks for either three or four nights each session. I love being part of the Church that truly is serving "the least of these" and who honestly believes we are called to "be the hands and feet of Jesus". Since this morning may be the last opportunity we have to love on our new friends at our place, my friend Kari sent out some final observations Holy Spirit has been laying on her heart. One that struck a chord with me is that she felt dining with our homeless friends gave her "a glimpse into what fellowship around God's table will be like in heaven someday."

Many races, varying socio-economic statuses, many different backgrounds, many different life choices...but all brought together by the bond of Christ's Love and an abundant feast He sets before us. That is a meal worthy of our attention.

All of this has made me crave more opportunities for Kingdom dining. The invitation is always there...but will we accept our seat He's reserved just for us?