Every Tuesday afternoon as we finish the mid-afternoon prayer, Dave invites everyone within hearing range to gather for afternoon Bible study at the twenty-foot table in the center of the room.
“It is a very exclusive table,” he says each time. “Only sinners allowed!”
The Lamb Center, a day shelter for homeless and poor individuals, recently moved to a bigger, better-equipped building. Three times the size of the old building, the new space enables us to serve our guests in a number of new ways. In spite of the improvements, though, the heart of what transpires continues to happen around the old table in the center of the room, the only piece of furniture that made the move from the old building to the new. Built lovingly by a volunteer who has since passed away, the table was created especially for The Lamb Center. Staff, volunteers, and guests couldn’t imagine a Lamb Center without this table–a symbol of hope, healing, and transformation for so many.
I understand the attachment to this special table. I too have sensed God’s presence there and have been repeatedly moved by the vulnerability, compassion, and hope I have experienced within this community during the years I have been leading Tuesday afternoon Bible study. If I know anything at all about the kingdom of God, I’ve learned it at this table.
All are welcome
Everyone is welcome at The Lamb Center table. Whether sharing a meal, gathering for Bible study, or engaging in conversation during the hours in between, there are no requirements for a seat at the table except a willingness to pull up a chair. This is a place of radical hospitality. Whether guest, staff, or volunteer, we are all invited to come as we are. We can show up hungry, show up confused, show up with a smile, or show up with tears in our eyes. We can show up in our finest clothes or show up in our last filthy shirt. We can share our perspectives or sit quietly and listen. The table is a safe place, and we are all there by God’s invitation. My friend Dave often says to those who hesitate at the edge of our circle, “We won’t be complete without you.” At the table and in the kingdom, we are loved, our stories are valued, and our presence matters.
People are messy
The Lamb Center table is raw, honest, and real. Life is hard, and many of our guests are living in difficult circumstances. My friends at The Lamb Center are under no misconceptions that they have their lives under control. The pride and self-sufficiency which plague many of us with comfortable homes and money in the bank has long since been left behind by my friends who sleep in the woods. They know they need help because the situations in which they find themselves leave them no alternative. Around this holy table, masks of invincibility have no place. We laugh a great deal…
Continue reading the rest of this post at The Glorious Table
This week marks the one year anniversary of The Glorious Table, a contributor blog where “life is shared and grace is poured out.” I am honored and humbled to be a part of this community of brave writers. If you aren’t already, please visit The Glorious Table and sign up to receive our posts in your Inbox. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Glorious Table!!