Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Table of Grace



Having the pleasure of our friends Helen and Daniel from Colombia stay with us reminded me of this incredible moment during our visit with them. 

The Table of Grace …..

A small team of us travelled to visit Hernan and Rosa Bravo (Daniel's parents) who serve with Latin America Mission in Barranquilla, Colombia.


While we were there we facilitated workshops on worship and music leadership for Pastors and Lay Leaders.  We visited families and brought supplies to those that had lost their homes from the extreme flood conditions.



We also planned some day camps for children living in very difficult circumstances.


   
One afternoon our mission team was invited to lunch from one of the members of the Communidad Pas congregation. 

We arrived to find almost the entire church community there to greet us.  Men were playing dominos on the front walkway.  Women were chopping tomatoes on the back table while some young ladies were singing to the colourful parrot in the backyard. 
   
Then my eyes narrowed in on one strong beautiful matriarch.  She was standing alone over a fire in the extreme noon day heat.  There was something special that drew me to her. 


I had no idea at the time that this meal she was preparing would lead to an extraordinary holy moment.  

It would be from this table that I would taste and encounter the transforming grace of the Lord.

We were invited to come inside for the meal.  The room was sparse.  There was one table situated by a fan with enough church chairs for our small team of six.  We felt a little awkward to take the only seats in the house that provided shelter from the heat.

We also felt uncomfortable because we knew it was very likely there would not be enough food for everyone who had gathered to meet us.

Despite our reservations they warmly escorted us to the table that was prepared especially for us.  With gratitude we sat down to partake in this wonderful meal.

They treated us like royalty and delighted to serve us.

I had never before experienced such honour and hospitality as a guest in a stranger’s home. 

They brought us a bowl of delicious cheese soup and some rice on the side.  I savoured each spoonful.  Although this was a simple meal it still felt as if I was dining at the most abundant feast I had ever tasted in my life. 

As people began to share stories around the table I became engaged in a conversation of my own.

An intense internal battle began to rage within me regarding my own worth to sit at this table.

The inner dialogue continued to swirl in my head with words of condemnation - I should be working to serve these beautiful women, not the other way around.

I felt ashamed of who I knew I was and that I did not deserve this kind of honour.  After all they were spending their little to feed, serve and bless me. 

Then in the midst of this painful inner examination it was as if the rest of the room went silent and I heard this faint whisper.

"This is the table of grace."

"This is what I am doing for you Nicole... preparing a table, a banquet for you.”

I fought to hold back the tears.  For a moment there was just the two of us in the room - God & me. 

I now had a faint glimpse of how the disciples must have felt when Jesus knelt to wash their feet.  As I sipped this humble soup I was painfully aware and ashamed that I did not deserve to dine at this table.  It was as if I was confronted by the holiness of the Servant King Himself.

If I felt unworthy to partake in this simple meal then how could I even fathom dining at a table in heaven that was prepared by Christ, the one and only Son of God.

God in His mercy that day did not leave me there at the table in my shame.  He covered and overwhelmed me with this reminder of the precious gift of His grace.


My dear friends ...

Jesus does not just stop at the sacrifice that He made for us at the cross.

He goes further than what we could ever imagine.

Our Saviour extends an invitation of belonging.

He chooses to serve us...even when we continue to wound Him.

Jesus does not just tolerate us, but is actually delighted to prepare a place for us at His table. 

His abounding unconditional love never ends.  It is not based on our behaviour or effort.

There is nothing we can do to earn our place at the table.

We are given a seat of honour as His very own.

In His Presence we are celebrated and embraced with absolute welcome and belonging.


We are not treated as we deserve.

We get to be the recipients of this mysterious and outrageous grace.  

Through a meek bowl of soup and rice prepared by this beautiful woman I literally tasted the grace of the Lord.

I don't think I will ever come to the table the same again. 

It is my prayer that each time we sit down at the table we will experience the sheer joy of dining together with Jesus as His very own.






If you would like to know more about the incredible work of LAM, Canada you can connect to LAM Canada, Bravo Family (Hernan, Rosa, Daniel and Helen)


6 comments:

  1. Nicole you are really making me sob like a baby! I'm in the Dr.office fighting back the tears--oh how I wish I had waited til I got home to read this! Having said that I am in awe of this beautiful experience & in a good way I envy it�� what a blessing this must have been for you--I feel honored & blessed to be reading it --so I can only imagine the experience:) thank you nicole for sharing the story��

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  2. I don't know whether to smile or apologize for causing you a public moment of embarrassment - lol! Thank you Mary Lou for always taking the time to encourage me and share with all of us here in this place. That is a big part of why I started this blog so that each of us can be attentive to those holy moments that are right there in front of us in the midst of the ordinary. Thank you for sharing so many of your unique holy moments with me over the years as we encourage one another on this glorious camino!

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  3. Hello my dear friend,
    It has been a while since I've had the chance to catch up on your blog, and boy how I've missed it!
    I'm so happy I had the chance to sit down and read today.
    What a beautiful story and timely reminder of how short we fall of the grace of God!
    I have always struggled with allowing God to minister to me through the service and generosity of others, especially those I perceive as less fortunate. But what a blessing it is when I humbly and obediently allow God's grace to flow through others' acts of kindness. And also what a blessing for them to know they are vessels of God's love to others. Sometimes we forget how God blesses others through their giving!
    Thank you once again for continuing to follow the Spirit's promptings in your life and putting them into words through these posts.

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  4. Laura you have said it so beautifully - that we need to allow others to minister to us and to be willing to receive. Thank you for sharing with us here - I always learn so much from your thoughts and heart...miss you lots.

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  5. So beautifully written and illustrated by lovely photographs. I loved listening in on your inner dialogue with God, and saying, "Me too." Why is it so hard to embrace grace? :)

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    1. That is such a great question to wrestle with. It has always seemed easier to believe in His grace for others than myself. Thankfully our Father is the one who helps us to receive and grow in His grace. Thank you Belinda - your encouragement and insights mean so much to me.

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