Welcome to the Table!

Each month on the 4th Monday we have dinner with our neighbors—several of them. We cleverly call it the “Monthly Neighborhood Dinner.” It is at our house [actually CCC’s house], which is known as the North Park Friendship House. It sits in the middle of the North Park Neighborhood just north of Hardin Simmons University on the corner of Hickory and Lowden. It’s a great house for having neighbors over for dinner! Picnic tables on the porch, a long farm table in the kitchen, other tables in the office/community room.

            In May, the fourth Monday is Memorial Day, so each year we have a Memorial Day Neighborhood Dinner, and it’s usually our best-attended dinner for the year. This year it fell on May 27th, and it was great! And here’s why…

·    Jay, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years and is affectionately known as the “Mayor,” cooked the burgers and hotdogs! He’s a great cook and his wife—the first lady—is even better!

·    We had many great contributions from neighbors. I especially appreciated the desserts and loved the blackberry cobbler! I am convinced that God’s economic plan for our lives as his people is simply “pot luck.” Me, you, they, we—everyone bringing what you can, even if this month it’s only yourselves.

·    There were lots of kids! I love seeing kids play together! I think Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Sometimes, we need to grow up into children!

·    Jay, a Marine who was in Vietnam, talked about Memorial Day, and I learned some new things. For example, on Memorial Day, flags are supposed to fly at half-mast until afternoon. You shouldn’t say, “Have a happy Memorial Day” because it’s a day of remembering those who have given their lives for our country. Remembering is a practice that should inform our lives and Memorial Day is about remembering. But it’s also a day to rejoice in the remembering by gathering with friends.

·    Many of my favorite neighbors were there! It was great to share the table with Doris, Jessie, Mable, Larry, Naomi, Jay, Karen, Sandy, Felipa, Rosa, Ann, Bryn, Juan, Nadine, Lillie, Lily, Olivia, Carina, Jearlene, Pauline, Shayla, Thomas, Kristy, Nicoll, Bret, Sarah, Wilma, Faye, Tommy, Jamacia, David, Ashley, Hannah, M’Lee, Rosie, Howard, Jo Ann, etc. It was hard to count the kids cause they kept moving, but we had around 70 folks and it was a memorable Memorial Day!

·    My heroine every month is my wife Becki—the hostess with the mostest! As I was told that evening, “She’s really good at figuring out how to serve this many people.” Becki is an amazing person who loves to welcome any and all!

Every month, our Neighborhood Dinner serves to remind me that in God’s kingdom, every person is welcomed to the table! Every. Person. Because every person is made in the image of God, and every person is loved by God. Every. Person.