I ran into this fascinating piece on church, and every time I read it, it makes me think. Enjoy!
“Concerning the why and how and what and who of ministry, one image keeps surfacing: a table that is round.
It will take some sawing to be roundtabled, some redefining and redesigning.
Such redoing and rebirthing of narrowlong churching can be painful for people and tables.
But so was the cross, a painful too table of giving and yes.
And from such death comes life, from such dying comes rising, in search of roundtabling.
And what would roundtable churching mean? It would mean no separating and throning, but for one king is there, and he was a footwasher, at table no less.
A healer of hearts, he, and bestower of disturbing peace, whose footsteps we lost track of.
We looked for signs, but with uncircumcised hearts, trying to discern a message indiscernible to pomped and circumstanced, yet well-intentioned ones, who while proclaiming the finding, were all the time losing.
For at the narrowlong tables, servant and mirror became picture framed and centers of attention.
And crosses became but gilded ornaments on bare stone walls in buildings used but once a week only.
But the times and the tables are changing and rearranging.
And what of narrowlong table ministers, when they confront a round table people, after years of working up the table (as in ‘up the ladder’) to finally sit at its head, only to discover that the table has turned round?
Continued rarefied air will only isolate for there are not people there, only roles.
They must be loved into roundness, where apart is spelled a part and the call is to gathering.
For God has called a People, not ‘them and us.’ ‘Them and us’ are unable to gather round, for at a roundtable, there are no sides.
And all are invited to wholeness and to food.
‘When more than was last has been found has been found’ (e.e. cummings).
But wishing and hoping will not get us there – daily dying and rising will (and some sawing).
At one tine our narrowlong churches were built so to resemble the cross, but it does no good for buildings to do so, if lives do not.
Roundtabling means no preferred seating, no first and last, no better, and no corners for the ‘least of these.’
Roundtabling means being with, a part of, together, and one.
It means room for the Spirit and gifts and disturbing profound peace for all.
It is no magic bread that we are baking, for the dough we are dealing with must and will take its dying-in-order-to-rise-again-time.
And it is we in the present who are mixing and kneading the dough for the future. We can no longer prepare for the past.
We will and must and are called to be Church, and if He calls for other than roundtables, we are bound to follow.
Leaving behind the sawdust and chips, designs and redesigns behind.
All the while being harmless as doves and wily as serpents in search of and in the presence of the Kingdom that is God’s and not ours.”
—A Gentle Presence by Chuck Lathrop