THE STORY OF TABLE COMMUNITIES
Naomi and I are convinced that transformation happens in people’s lives when they can experience the kind of welcome that Jesus extends to them. Since 2008, we’ve been opening up our home in Rocky River to our neighbors who have become friends. These same friends generously open their own homes to us. We experience life together as we pull up a chair at tables together.
Two of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life say that he came to earth “eating and drinking.” That wasn’t just an offhand comment by the Gospel writers. “Eating and drinking” was a description of Jesus’s ministry method, namely to welcome people into his presence while food and beverages are being shared. Jesus often invited the “wrong” kinds of people to look across a table into his compassionate eyes, as he listened to them and shared not only drinks and meals with them, but the very words of life. To him they were the right kinds of people - the kinds of people who knew they desperately needed him.
As we have joined with other friends to to open our tables and our homes over the years, we’ve created space for our neighbors and friends to experience the listening ears, compassionate eyes, and the caring heart of Jesus through us, his family. Since the middle of 2017, we’ve been operating as a mini-church of sorts out of Renew Communities, a local church in Berea, Ohio. Since that time, other Tables have been doing the same kind of ministry we’ve been doing with the image of a table at the center of it all. Table Communities as a church is truly becoming a joint venture. These other Table Communities are in the West Park and Jefferson Park neighborhoods of Cleveland. Together, we’ve had the opportunity to be a blessing to dozens of people who have made their way to our gatherings and we have been blessed by each and every friend who pulls up a chair at our table.
It’s now 2019 and we are formally identifying as a church along with other friends who love sharing their tables with others. Church is a word that in Biblical Greek simply means assembly or gathering. We’re simply an extending family of friends who gather as friends and neighbors to taste and see that Jesus is good. We find that our neighbors become our friends. We also taste some delicious food and beverages along the way.
Matt Buehrle, Table Guardian - February 2019