For the Love of a Crowded Table

Connection has become a bit of a buzzword, hasn't it? Just like "community," connection is one of those words with shared value in different contexts. We want connection. We want to feel connected.  Our collective experience is groaning for connection now in a new way. 

In this season of pandemic-tide, it feels like we're constantly searching for connections; treading water, and making virtual life last just long enough for us to make it back to the shore of in-person gathering.  Virtual gatherings allow for a new type of connection, to be sure, but it just doesn't feel the same, at least for me.  

As we shared on Kindred Teatime on Tuesday, connection is often found around the table through shared meals and favorite recipes. The tables we once gathered round have likely become pieced together through wifi, maybe they've been transplanted outside, and maybe they've been paused altogether.  But even as these tables shift and undergo great change, we still seek that connection don't we? And, that longing is particularly present for those who gather around tables to receive and participate in communion with the body of Christ. We also shared on social media today about creative (and historical) ways churches are continuing to offer communion.

When Ali introduced me to The Highwomen song called "Crowded Table" recently, I immediately felt like we'd found an anthem. The first verse and chorus give us these beautiful words:

You can hold my hand
When you need to let go
I can be your mountain
When you're feeling valley-low
I can be your streetlight
Showing you the way home
You can hold my hand
When you need to let go 

I want a house with a crowded table
And a place by the fire for everyone
Let us take on the world while we're young and able
And bring us back together when the day is done

This song serves as a reminder that connection isn't always organic; in fact, it's a result of intention more often than not. If you've listened to any of our podcast episodes, you know I always open with an invitation to join us at the table. And, folks who've visited our church will know that inviting people over for tea or dinner is my usual response to meeting new people. Last year around this time, In fact, it matters so much to me that I've shared my desire for each newsletter we send to be a "weekly feast;" a place of shared connection and delight around a gathered table. We hope that this vision of feasting together as a community has come to fruition for many of you as it has for us.

I'm curious, kindred, how are you all intentionally fostering connection these days? Have you found any creative ways to gather or share meals safely?  Are you having hospitable, generative conversations with those you don't normally choose to engage with?  You can let me know by responding to this email or answer over on Instagram stories. We've created a playlist centered around the theme of connection and being known. Have any song recommendations? Let us know!

Between pandemic-tide and election-tide, connection might prove to be a task, but I truly believe that it is a task to which we are called by God. May we each face this task with humility, a posture of prayer, and deep hope. 

Alongside you,