Around the Table

community

 

I love my new job. And I loved my old job.

 

For 24 years, I was a pastor, and it was good (except the times it wasn’t). This past 7 months, I’ve been a professor. And it is very good, and so far I haven’t found the underside. Do I love professoring (my coinage) more than pastoring? It’s hard to say. They’re hard to compare. All I know for sure is that my heart sings now in a way it had stopped singing.

 

There are probably many reasons for that. One, I think, is simply practical: I am home most evenings. In the pastorate, most my evenings were taken up with some church-related duty or another. After too many seasons of that, something eroded in me. Some deep weariness took hold of me.

 

But now I have most evenings free. The first few months, I gorged myself on that. I went nowhere. I saw no one. I sat home and read, or watched movies, or puttered around the basement. I drank a lot of tea.

 

It was life-giving.

 

And then it got boring.

 

So Cheryl and I started inviting people over to our house, and readily accepted invitations to go to other peoples’ houses. In fact, in the 7 months we’ve live here, we’ve hosted more meals in our home and eaten more meals in other people’s homes than we did in our last 5 years in the pastorate.

 

I’m beginning to realize why Jesus placed such a priority on sitting down to a meal with someone. Something happens around a table that doesn’t, or only rarely, happens elsewhere. It’s some magic that can’t be conjured, manufactured, or faked. Stories are told. Histories are remembered. Dreams are evoked. Laughter breaks out, and sometimes tears. A depth of honesty emerges. A sense of shared humanity weaves hearts together.

 

It’s ironic, maybe tragic: I spent so much time as a pastor I trying to create this, and so little experiencing it.

 

I don’t know if I’ll ever pastor again. I just know, from here on out I don’t want to miss the simple, beautiful, subversive power of meeting another human being around the table.

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  • http://www.GordonDickinson.com Gordon Dickinson

    Hi Mark, I love this post! I shared a quote from your article on our church blog today; at Cornerstone we’ve tried to encourage people to be intentional about this sort of thing, we refer to it as “Green Tables”. (Earlier on I put a link but Disqus tagged my comment as spam. If you’re interested, Google: “Cornerstone Baptist Church PEI Green Tables”.)

  • http://www.forwardthinkingwebsolutions.com/ Stephen Crewson

    Thanks Mark for your blog. I arrived at it through a FB friend’s post. I resonated totally with your comment about having people in your home. During 12 years of full-time ministry the energy level wasn’t there to add just one more thing to our plate by inviting others in for a meal at our home. It didn’t take long afterwards before our mission and goal on a Sunday was reversed and the number of shared meals increased exponentially. Enjoy the new normal!