THE OPEN TABLE
The Open Table is a community of inclusion, rooted in a Christian tradition of mysticism and liberation. We believe God breaks all chains, boundaries and categories, and we invite others to share in the freedom and challenges that come with this belief. In a world defined by division, we align ourselves with the marginalized and oppressed. We take our inspiration from Jesus Christ, who birthed a new society in the shell of the old,
a society full of outcasts whose faith and actions were wholly integrated. Our theology consists of core values that bring us together and encourage questions and authentic relationships. We are here to learn with and from each other, and to stand with and for each other. We don’t claim to know the whole truth, but we believe we are part of it. Wherever you come from, whatever your perspective, we welcome you.
Organic, authentic community is hard to come by. People are busier than ever and often don’t have a space to relax and connect with others. The Open Table strives to offer a place of deep welcome and acceptance. It is a place where people are free to question, doubt, and laugh together, while differences are appreciated and valued. We often read the Affirmation of Faith from the Iona Community in Scotland, which speaks to our emphasis on community: “We believe that God is present in the darkness before dawn; in the waiting and uncertainty where fear and courage join hands, conflict and caring link arms, and the sun rises over barbed wire. We believe in a with-us God who sits down in our midst to share our humanity.”
Grassroots hospitality starts with friendships, and everything flows from that relational place. We wish to be place-sharers, offering a listening ear to those experiencing hardships of any kind, and offering dignity and empathy instead of quick fixes. Through relationships, our community is moved to act, to do simple things to help share the load with one another. Hospitality is a move towards sharing who we are and what we have, with a concern for the holistic well-being of each other. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.” This is an expression of God’s desire to care for the “least of these” among us through the practice of deep hospitality.
In the work of radical hospitality, community and justice, it’s important to have time to breathe deep and be present to God, self, and those around us. In a world where all are encouraged to be hyper-productive, The Open Table intentionally creates space for rest. When we rest, we are able to say no to some things, so that we may say yes to others. We take an intentional step that makes us more available to see the beauty and brokenness all around us, and rewrite the narrative that tells us we are what we produce. Writer and church historian Dorothy Bass shared, “Refraining from work on a regular basis is a way of setting limits on behavior that is perilous for both human welfare and the welfare of the earth itself.”
No one has the market cornered on beauty. Every single person has unique creative energy, and that should be celebrated as the most beautiful gift any one person can offer another. Even if you sing off-key, color outside the lines, or tell bad jokes, it is beautiful because you are being vulnerable, and offering your gifts. Beauty also lies in story, song, and nature. It wakes us up and changes us for the better when we encounter it. To quote Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, “The world will be saved by beauty.”
God’s justice pushes us towards the liberation of each other. To condone theological malpractices that result in injustice stands in direct confrontation to God’s liberating work. We think it’s important to engage in that work, while simultaneously examining and confessing the ways that we, both individually and collectively, have caused harm. It is by acting and reflecting, by giving agency and voice to those most impacted, and by working with one another, that we experience a deeper transformation. In the words of activist, academic, and artist Lilly Watson: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Singing Ourselves Together: Chickamauga Cherokee Spirituality
Your Body Speaks
The Space Between Us
Calm Abiding in Community