A Seat at the Table

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I spent last week in Honduras serving alongside nine others from my home church and approximately 30 more people from congregations around the United States.  Our trip was facilitated by Baptist Medical & Dental Mission International (BMDMI), an organization with an established presence in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Nepal.  We flew in and out of the capital city, Tegucigalpa, but we served in Erandique, a village located about eight hours by bus southwest of the city.

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Nearly 1,800 people visited our clinic in Erandique and received dental, medical, optical, and pharmaceutical care in addition to clothing, food, and shoes.  I worked with children in the village and enjoyed making crafts, playing, singing, and teaching three Bible lessons.  Upon our return to the Tegucigalpa area, we visited Good Shepherd Children’s Home, a vital ministry of BMDMI that tends to the academic, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs of Honduran children who have been separated from their parents for one reason or another.

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Last week memories were made, experiences were shared, and lessons were learned.  As I expected, I was reminded of God’s heart for people, the importance of caring for others, and the call to participate in God’s work around the world.

Perhaps the most significant lesson I learned, though, wasn’t one I anticipated.  Nearly four dozen Americans representing different denominations and parts of the country teamed up with Honduran believers to serve their neighbors, and it was a powerful example of the unity we have in Christ.  It reminded me of Paul’s words to a Christian audience in Philippians 1: “You are all partakers with me of grace” (Philippians 1:7).

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When I read those words, I can’t help but picture a large table with a plentiful spread of delicious food.  It’s as if Paul points out the main dish and asks, “Have you tasted this?  It’s amazing!”  And our emphatic response is, “I know!  I’ve never had anything like it!”

As believers, we’ve tasted and seen God’s goodness (Psalm 34:8).  We’ve been adopted by God into His family, and now we have a permanent place around His table (Ephesians 1:5).  That lady sitting next to you with different political preferences?  She’s family.  That man sitting across from you with outspoken theological convictions?  He’s family.

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There is absolutely a time and a place for healthy dialogue about our differences, but even then we can’t lose sight of what binds us together.  What would it look like to truly celebrate all we have in common?  What would happen if we rejoiced – even obsessed – over our shared experience of grace?  Can you imagine the depth of fellowship?  Rather than fretting over the diversity at the table, let’s unite in our marveling at the miracle that any of us has a place around it at all.

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“Life is about one thing,” wrote Ann Voskamp, “Coming to His table and inviting as many as you can to come feast with you on the only Living Food.”  By the grace of God, last week I was privileged to invite others to the table while enjoying the fellowship of those already around it.  Both were immense blessings.

2 Comments on “A Seat at the Table”

  1. I love this Abbey, so much. Oh for us to rejoice – even obsess – over our shared experience of grace. I long with you for our testimony to be the Body rejoicing over this instead of grumbling over our differences. Your words spur us on to love and good deeds. Thank you for them. Press on!

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