Sunday, February 19, 2012

What if?

Last night at Table of Grace, I preached a “what if” sermon, asking along the way…What if I were the friends in the passage (Mark 2:1-12…feel free to stop and read it now if you weren’t there)? What if I were the paralyzed man? What if I were in the group of onlookers? What if…wait for it…what if I was Jesus?
Wait a minute, did I just blaspheme? Can you even say that? I mean, really, is that like calling myself God? It seems a bit like shaky ground. In my own life, though, I feel like that is the place where I have been called to stand…on the shaky ground. It is the ground that Jesus walked on, where he muddied waters, and stirred pots, and challenged establishments. That ground, the ground of status quo and of inequality and injustice, was forever shaken by the life and message of Jesus.
Over and over again throughout the gospels, we have Jesus calling us to follow him. He tells the disciples that they have authority to do all of the things that he is doing, and more. When he left them, no longer to be visibly, physically present with them, he told them that they would have a Spirit that would accompany them always, and that through that Spirit, he, and of course God, would always be with them. I believe that he asked them to take over his place in the stories, to continue his mission, to spread his good news. Therefore, I have decided to start looking at the Biblical text through this lens (along with the collection of others that I have).
Last night I shared a quote from Peter Gomes, author of The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, among other things. Peter, who passed from this world far too early, last spring, said this: “The question should not be 'What would Jesus do?' but rather, more dangerously, 'What would Jesus have me do?' The onus is not on Jesus but on us, for Jesus did not come to ask semi-divine human beings to do impossible things. He came to ask human beings to live up to their full humanity; he wants us to live in the full implication of our human gifts, and that is far more demanding.” Enough said, right?
What would Jesus have me do? What if Jesus expected me to take seriously the charge to keep doing what he was doing? What if I did? What if you did? What if people began to experience wholeness in body, mind, and spirit because we cared?  What if people who were hungry began to experience food security, rather than food insecurity, because we who have shared with those who have not? What if my self-interest began to wane because my concern for others began to fill me in ways that I have never experienced? What if the love of God began to flow through me in the same way that it flowed through Jesus because I began to really follow?
What if, what if, what if. During our children’s moment last night, I asked the children what message they got from the four friends holding on tightly to the ropes and lowering their friend into the middle of the room where Jesus could heal him. The answer that I got came from our daughter, Alexis, who I must say is pretty amazing. She said “you have to hold on tight to your friends until they get what they need.”
Wow. What if we did that? What if our friends did that for us? You know what’s cool? I believe we have friends who would do that. And I feel pretty strongly that we would do that for any of our friends. So I guess the challenge is to go back and ask “what if I’m Jesus?” That just explodes the possibilities, because now everybody is my friend, and everybody is deserving of my care and compassion. What if there was nobody for whom I wasn’t willing to hold on tight, until they got what they needed. That is the goal to which I aspire. Anyone care to join me?
These are my thoughts today, I hope you'll share yours.
Blessings, Michelle

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I wish everyone knew about Table of Grace.

Not long ago, I was thinking about all the great things I'm seeing happen at Table of Grace, so I tried to put in to words.

I hope you will find these words to be true as well.

Stephanie Scott-Huffman

What I wish everyone knew about Table of Grace.

It's hard to get people to come to church.

So many people don't care for church because they view it as boring, they've been burned and hurt by the church or their experience with church just hasn't been pleasant.

These are just a few reasons we hesitate calling Table of Grace "church". A lot of times we say it's a faith community because that's how we see it. It's a community of people who are on a journey together. Different pasts, paths, beliefs and stories. We envision a community of people who can come together, just as they are and just be.

But the thing is, it is a church. No matter what we want to call it, it's still a church. It's the kind of church that I still believe in. The kind of church that is like a breath of fresh air. The kind of church that you don't have to worry about what to wear or what people will think of you. It's the kind of church that when someone ask "How are you doing", it's not just a nice question, they really want to know. It's a relational church. Where people, their lives and their struggles really matter.

We want Table of Grace to be the church that many have longed for. The church that many have been looking for. It isn't our hope to compete with other churches in the area, to be that cool church that seems to be popular or in style. It is our desire and hope that Table of Grace become the place where people will find acceptance, love, grace, hope, friendship, help, guidance and community at levels they've never experienced anywhere else. Table of Grace is down to earth, genuine, simple, traditional and non-traditional. We are a place of sanctuary for all and when we say all, we mean ALL. No one should be excluded from being a part of God's kingdom.

Do we do things a little differently? Yes, we do. Some days you'll find Lady Gaga, Supertramp, John Lennon or Macy Gray playing at the end of the service, along with hymns, some Christian songs and other music as well-because we believe the gift of music isn't just limited to Christian music. You'll find the kids in the sanctuary with the rest of us through the service, coloring, making things, listening and taking communion. You won't find fancy fixtures that have cost large amounts of money, but you'll find the creativity of the children's art work that reflect the heart of God with things like peace, love, joy and more love. You'll find a casual atmosphere where conversation about what the Pastor is preaching is welcomed. You'll find a variety of people participating in the service, not just Elders and Deacons. You'll find good food after service, laughter, great conversation and sometimes a fun game of something or another will break out.

It is our hope to build a community that feeds to hungry, clothe the naked, offers a hand to the oppressed, helps lift the heavy loads of others, empowers people, walks along side people through the bad and celebrate with each other through the good. We believe that we need each other. We believe that our differences are actually gifts that can be accepted and celebrated. We believe that each of us have amazing things to bring to this world and to one another and that our differences are not to be feared, but embraced. We believe that many people find God in different ways and we respect those ways. We believe that we can learn together, worship together and explore together. We believe that it's ok to ask questions, express doubt and draw our own conclusions.

These are just some things I wish you knew about the Table of Grace. Perhaps one day soon, you will come and get a glimpse of just some of the things that I see.

It's beautiful.


Welcome to the Table of Grace blog site! We are so glad you're here.

Here you'll find service times, location, bible study information and perhaps some insight from Reverend Michelle Scott-Huffman.

Table of Grace is a new faith community. We've been joining together for close to six months now and we've had weekly services for approximately four months. It's been wonderful forming new friendships, learning and worshiping together, creating community and sharing meals together. Reverend Michelle has shared insightful wisdom and encouragement, moving many of us to look within ourselves and to God. Table of Grace is a great place to be and as we move forward in this journey, we hope that you will join us.

Peace be with you.