Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I’ve named and been named.
I’ve called out, been spat out.
I’ve spurned others, I’ve been branded.
What are these labels, and why do we use them? We self-identify, and we deride others with their usage. We pigeon-hole others into these small identities, to push them out of our circles so we don’t lose any ground ourselves. But the gospel isn’t about gaining ground or keeping ground. The gospel is about boundaries falling away… enlarging our places with love to allow the disintegration of walls, circles, fences… ins and outs. We’re all in. What can separate us? Nothing separates from The Love.
At the grand, wide, messy, noisy table of The Church, many clamour and scuffle to claim a seat. We stake our ownership, cling to our place, clutch our cup and plate out of fear and lack. We don’t notice the table before us groaning with the wait of the goodness that awaits us. We are so quick to point fingers…
You! Move down the end, go to the foot of the table. You! You’re not welcome, your beliefs are ugly – you! Deceived!
Believer of lies! Fearful! Unloving! Your existence threatens my deeply held beliefs. Your deeply held beliefs threaten my existence.
Oh what to do. All this chaos around us, all this shouting and name-calling and bickering and right-fighting… all for what? All while the food goes cold and the wine spoils. The extravagant feast we’ve all been invited to goes begging.
We think you’re afraid, you think we’re deceived… its us and them, us and them, us and them.
But what if it’s just US? We distill our humanity down to such minuscule components. We truncate the stories that run marbled through our experience and our belief, and the labels roll off thick and fast. Ours not yours. Mine not theirs.
Somehow I can’t help thinking Jesus would be sitting in the middle of it all, inviting us all to just be… at the table, and to eat, for God’s sake! To offer water for the thirst of our neighbour, to ask for the plate of nourishment to be passed.
Zaccheus and the prostitute, the disciples and the teachers of the law… Jews and gentiles, slave and free, man and woman and transgender and no gender… All are welcome, all are invited, all are called. Because we all want the same thing, don’t we? Don’t we all want the Holy Kingdom here on earth? Don’t we all want shalom? Isn’t this the purpose of the table? Aren’t we all tasked with the responsibility of peace?
Isn’t our greatest calling to love? Didn’t He say, “they will know you by your love”? How do they know you today?
Will you sit – side by side – with your brother, with your sister, with your non-binary sibling in Christ… will you see them? Will you eat the bread and drink the wine?
Will you rub shoulders with the Other until the Other becomes All of Us?
Will you allow yourself to be known?
Will you be known for your love?
Are you known for your love?