“Is this an uncomfortable place for you to be?” a sister asked her brother. It seemed like a strange question to ask given the setting. The wedding guests were joyously dancing on the dance floor. The cousins had just sung a duet, an old spiritual. The children were savoring a slice of wedding cake. But the sister knew her brother well. She knew that he didn’t always agree with the rest of the family. And she wondered if he was uncomfortable with the fact that the nuptials they had just witnessed on a lovely fall day in a rural barn were between two women.
He looked his sister directly in the eye. He nodded yes. “Thank you for asking” he told her. She decided not to try to change his mind. She decided to just listen. He opened up. He didn’t try to change her mind. He said that he had struggled with the whole thing. Wasn’t sure what to do. Then he went to talk to a trusted friend in his church. His friend encouraged him to go to the wedding, to honor the importance of family. And so he decided that the most important thing he could do was to “keep showing up at the table.”
As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, many of us will be invited to keep showing up at the table with those whom we disagree on impeachment, climate change, and our beloved faith. The divisiveness of our country shows up at the dinner table with our dearly beloved friends and family. Is this an uncomfortable place for you to be?
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus discusses how to handle conflict and what to do when you have forgiven someone so many times you are too tired to forgive them once more. The conflict Jesus addresses is conflict that takes place within the church. And in the middle of that section, Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” What binds them together is not agreement but a love so much larger than their personal opinions. We can only glimpse that beautiful and holy unity if we “keep showing up at the table.”
Grace and peace,