We had a fabulous evening last night in the convivial surroundings of the home of good friends at our church. The food was gorgeous, the conversation refreshing, the attention to detail of our host and hostess - from the way the table was laid to ensuring our glasses were filled as necessary - was perfect. It was one of those truly refreshing occasions - just what I needed at the end of a busy week.
It was a reminder, if I needed it, of what hospitality does and how essential it is. If only the church could bottle this spirit and pour it over its gatherings.
So many of Jesus' significant encounters happened at the table, in the extended, time-rich surroundings of a meal. Conversation cannot be hurried, real issues cannot be buried in agendas, no one can hide behind their job title. Here is where humans touch and life and grace, love and mercy are exchanged. This is where people find themselves and each other - and in the course of the meal, God (whether they were expecting him or not).
In the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus came to dinner and salvation came to the house. If only that happened more often in our neighbourhoods