The Invitation

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Psalm 34:8

“Don’t you see how God’s wooing you from the jaws of danger?
How he’s drawing you into wide-open places—
inviting you to feast at a table laden with blessings?”
Job 36:15 MSG

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord…Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that he Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Psalm 100:1-5 ESV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 106:1

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all…Isaiah 25:6

The fasts…will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals. Zechariah 8:19

I have discovered something about myself: I have taken to looking out my windows from time to time, when I have pockets of time to pause. Whether this is because this season of life has provided me with more pause-button opportunities or just because the ages of my children have shifted/demands have shifted, I am not sure. It is a sentimental, meditative practice for me that, when I discovered that I was doing it—for no particular reason—I became more intentional about it. It is sentimental to me because I can remember my dad doing it on frequent occasions, growing up on the Farm. When I would see him look out the sliding glass door in the kitchen, or out the big picture window in the living room, I would always wonder, “Whose coming?.” Sometimes, he was expecting someone; a neighbor for farm talk, folks asking to hunt on his land, or the vet to check on his livestock. But not always. And then at mealtimes, his gaze would fix on the backyard, mulling pensively about something… his crops? next year’s harvest? the list of farm chores next to tackle? or perhaps he was praying?

As for me, I think my habit started because I was on the lookout for visiting deer. Two doe had ventured near our house, just on the other side of our wooden fence. Although I have yet to see this year’s reported buck, there I am, systematically gazing out our windows—north, south, east, and west—on the visual hunt for any fawn-colored beast. Then I’m peeking out the back door to check on our new chickens Laverne and Shirley, two Rhode Island Reds we’ve adopted. My level of involvement with these feathered girls has all but astonished me. Perhaps it’s my farm-raised heritage rising to meet the challenge of providing this pair of “livestock” with a measure of comfort in Wisconsin’s drastic weather changes. I’ve taken great pains in insulating and wrapping their coop, finishing off their chicken run extension, studying up on the breed with their best interests in mind. And for what? Certainly not for eggs during this molting season in their life cycle, especially as they encounter their first Wisconsin weather, brought to us this year with dramatic entry:  70 degree weather on Thursday to a 30 degree freeze that night. 

Perhaps the motive for this new-found pleasure of mine is simply in being intentional to hit the pause button. It’s the difference between speed-reading and meditative reflection, akin to me taking time to read the footnotes in the chapter, instead of pushing through to the end. It is when I pay attention to the footnotes in my life that I can draw from a deep Well that doesn’t run dry. Actually, the footnotes in my New King James Bible describe one meaning of the Hebrew word salvation as being “room to breathe.”  It goes on to say concerning Psalm 21 that “God had given King David a release from the pressures and constraints that bound him.” 

That’s what we are all looking for, right? A release from the pressures and constraints that bind us. It’s cultivating an intentional pause to withdraw, to hush the echo chamber of our thoughts, and in so doing allow the Spirit to reveal, activate, and release the new.

It’s the intentional lifting off of the burdens in order to “take on” Joy, Feasting, Gathering, Gratitude. It’s acknowledging His Presence is greater than our own anxieties and wrestlings, when we give Him space to soak into our schedules, as Exodus 33:14 promises, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” It’s stewarding our own faculties to pause, take a breath mark, watch, rest.

Alicia Britt Chole refers to this intentional space in The Sacred Slow, saying that “We take a step toward emotional health and the strength to shape our space when we choose not to take personal responsibility for someone else’s interior discontentment,” (Chole, p. 186).

It’s all an invitation. An invitation to taste. An invitation to see. An invitation to a feast. An invitation to make a joyful noise, to be glad, an invitation to be thankful. It’s an invitation to breathe. 

It’s what we do when we gather together. It’s like when we intentionally set aside a couple days away from the stringent work schedule in order to be with extended family, in order to cherish and honor each other’s presence. We all come together, well aware of our own prejudices, mishaps, and mistakes, because we aren’t together to shine a light on our failures; no, we gather together because we all have set a place for each person, grateful to be together.

“He said ‘Come to the table.
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed.
Take your place beside the Savior.
Sit down and be set free.
Come to the table.’”
Sidewalk Prophets

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