God Came Down...

In the ancient world there was only one place to go to find the gods. You had to go up. You went to the highest point in the city, or you walked up the stairs of a temple, or you looked to the heavens as a statue of the fearsome deity towered over you.

So imagine how hard it was for those earliest Christian communities who would at some point in the day find themselves literally in the shade of those places where the divine lived. 

It wasn't in temples that those earliest Christians met, but homes. Places of welcome and embrace were the living spaces of the church. Where many expected God to be found in a place of power and splendor he was instead found at a table. An ordinary, everyday table. Any table would do as long as it had a place for all to come. 

You see, unlike the gods that early Christianity grew among, the Son of God chose to make himself known to the poor, the unimportant, the undervalued. This shouldn't really surprise us. God has always been in the habit of showing hospitality to those who least expect it, to those whom the world thinks don't deserve it, to those who need it most. 

But this God who reveals himself in Jesus Christ isn't like the others who claim to be a god. He doesn't demand that people fall before him in fear. He doesn't reveal himself only to a chosen few, hiding behind mystery and uncertainty. Instead, in anticipation of the ultimate expression of hospitality, Jesus invites his disciples to a table that he had to borrow. Christ's act of hospitality is made possible by the hospitality of others. 

And so it works in the Christian life that hospitality is something that must first be received before it is able to be extended to others. We must accept the invitation of Jesus to join him at the table before we are able to extend this invitation to others. 

But too often we struggle with accepting the hospitality. We have told ourselves that we are not worthy, or not interested, or not available. Some are repulsed because they can only imagine a god who is large and terrifying and the simplicity and hospitality of the table come almost as an insult. "Surely God is not really like this" they might say. But in fact, this is exactly who God is… Jesus Christ, the Son of God, at a borrowed table sharing the basics of life. 

The first step to becoming the hospitality of God in the world is to receive the hospitality of God at his table. Come and receive that you may go and embody the good news that the God of the universe does not live in temples made by human hands, but that he lives in his people, among his creation, and can be found in the stuff of everyday life, bread and drink. 

Come to the table.  

Michael Hanegan