For the past few weeks, we've been reading from the Epistle of James during our Sunday morning worship services. James is one of my favorite letters in the New Testament, but it is a hard letter to read and to hear. At its heart, James demands that those who say they are committed to following the way of Jesus actually live that out in their daily lives.
For James, following the way of Jesus isn't just about what you believe but how that belief informs the ways you interact with the people in your life. I find James to be an earthy letter. It's about here and now.
"You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves," the writer of James states. "Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like."
As we've talked and dreamed about the community that is forming around our Sunday evening dinners, David and I have come back again and again to three words: inclusive, authentic, and free. We want our dinner table to be open to everyone, regardless of the thousand and one labels that we all spend so much time applying to ourselves and others. We want our dinner table to be a place where we all feel that we can be our true selves, even if that self is sometimes a messy collection of contradictions. Finally, we want our dinner table filled with great conversations. We believe that great conversations require that everyone is free to explore new ideas, change their minds, and to make their own choices.
We want our dinner table to be a reflection of Christ's table.
Here's the thing, though. Sometimes I am like that guy who looks at himself in the mirror only to forget what he looks like minutes later. This isn't just the way that I want our dinners to be on Sunday evenings. It is the way that I want to live my life. So often, though, I am more of a hearer of the word instead of a doer of the word. How can I live in a way that encourages not just tolerance, but the celebration of diversity and difference? How can I live in a way that invites others to be honest and real--both with themselves and with others? How can I live in a way that allows people the right and the dignity to make up their own minds about their beliefs and their views on the issues facing our communities today?