The One Who Makes Room

The One Who Makes Room

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One of my best memories of high school (and there are few) is the lunch table where my friends and I gathered daily to share a meal. We always chose a circular table, rather than the long, rectangular ones. Maybe it felt more intimate or inclusive. I don’t know why, really, but I remember the tradition of finding a circle table and pulling up chairs and squeezing in around it.

The table was meant to seat six, maybe eight, but as the year went on, we found ourselves making room for one more person, and one more. There were days that 10 or more teenagers squeezed around this table, elbows bumping, food overlapping, personal space non-existent.

And it wasn’t that any of us was popular or well-known or even particularly well-liked. No, we were more like a band of misfits. We worked on the school newspaper, played in the band, got good grades. You know who we were. We were not flamboyant or funny. In a crowd, we’d usually blend in.

But at lunch, we came together as a group.

And we made room.

I thought of this recently when our family hosted our small group for dinner. Our house does not have a dining room that is fit for entertaining a crowd, so my original thought was we would maybe have the kids eat in the kitchen at the counter and the grown-ups, six of us, would squeeze in around the table. It would still be a tight fit.

But our kids had other plans. They filled their plates and plopped themselves right at the grown-up table. So, we all squeezed in and ate and laughed and watched our 5- and 7-year-olds consume both a hamburger and a hot dog. Free entertainment, I tell you.

And it was the same a few months before that when our house was a stop on the youth group progressive dinner route. The dozen or so teenagers invaded our kitchen, piled up their baked potatoes with toppings and gathered on every available space in our living room to watch the football game that was on.

Again, I had thought that maybe some could sit in the kitchen, and some at the table, and some in the living room, but they all stayed together and sat two to a chair and four or five to the couch and on the floor. They made room for each other and we made room for them in our house.

It would have been easy in either situation to say, “Oh, we don’t have room” and to find a different solution.

But I don’t regret either situation, and I’d do it again without hesitation.

I love watching people take communion.

Maybe that makes me a weird, creeper type, but I especially like it when rows of people go up at the same time and kneel together and take the elements. Our kids like to sit near the front of our church, so I don’t often get to see the people behind me and how they are worshipping God. I don’t mean to sound voyeuristic, but there’s something encouraging to me about looking at a group of people singing and saying and affirming the same things about the faith.

So when we’re among the first to take communion, I am strengthened in my faith by what I see happening at the altar.

At the communion table there is young next to old next to middle-aged. There is Sunday-best dressed next to casual-comfort dressed. There is wealthy and poor breaking bread together and sharing the cup. There is raised-in-the-faith next to rescued-from-darkness.

Christianity is often accused of being an “exclusive” religion. And I know why people say that because we tell them that there’s only one way to God and that’s through Jesus. I wonder if we forget to add that the way is open to all. There are no prerequisites.

And nowhere better do I see this than at the communion table. There, I see a way that includes so many walks of life. There, I see confident faith and struggling with doubt. Assurance and questioning. Learned and learning.

At the communion table we squeeze in next to each other, bump elbows and take the elements from the same plate. We eat and drink together, boundary lines blurred. We kneel and acknowledge our need together, all of us. There, we are equal, if only for a moment because it’s easy to forget when the world presses in and pressures us to make distinctions.

At the communion table, I remember the One who makes room. Who consistently opened the way to heaven to those who had previously been kept out. The poor. The hungry. The lame. The diseased. Women. Children.

“Come,” He said. “My Father’s house has many rooms, and I’m preparing one for you.”

The One for whom there was no room at his birth makes room for us in His kingdom.

And He inspires me to make room in my life for those He loves, even if it’s all squeezing and squishing and elbows and overlapping.

How can I make room for the work of the Lord in my life, in my house, in my day-to-day going about my business?

I ask it of me, and I ask it of you.

How do you make room? 

Lisa Bartelt About Lisa Bartelt

Lisa has been writing stories for more than a decade, first for newspapers and now as a freelancer, blogger and budding novelist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Read more at her blog, Beauty on the Backroads.

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