“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a taller fence”
In September, David & I got to visit a good friend in New Orleans – and make more friends while we were there!
Pastor Rachel is leading a mission to Spanish Speaking people in the Kenner, LA area (new NOLA), and we got to join her for some fun and exciting events. That mission is called “Mision Latina Mesa Abierta” or “Open Table: Latino Mission”.
This mission is purposefully challenging the immigration conversation. Instead of talking about whether or not to build a wall, this group is inviting more people to the table.
The newcomers and the old-timers in NOLA are talking together about God’s work in their lives, and they’re growing together in faith.
Pastor Rachel invites everyone to the Lord’s Table – sharing the traditional Christian communion dialogue in Spanish and in English at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Kenner. (I got to share a sermon there.)
Mesa Abierta gathers around open tables all over town, too – not only at church. Pastor Rachel meets day laborers before their day even starts, bringing them cold water in parking lots as they gather and plan out their day. (It’s seriously hot already at 8am in NOLA! I can’t imagine working outside all afternoon.) She also shares a word of encouragement, a Bible passage and conversation, and prayers. It’s not communion, but it is community – and it’s Spirit-filled.
While we were in NOLA, a group of activists invited us to join them around their tables of food and conversation (and drumming!) in a public park. It felt so nice to be invited. And, it was fun to be drumming! The group is acting for fairer and more humane immigration policies, especially ones that keep families together.
The next thing Mesa Abierta is launching is something called “Sobre Mesa”. This is the Spanish word for the time spent around the table after a group is done eating. They’ll be sharing language classes – teaching one another English and Spanish – and also sharing bilingual Bible studies.
what about our own “sobre mesa”? How many times are we standing around the water cooler at work, or the coffee table at church, or the dinner table at home and the topic of welcoming immigrants is discussed?
What if, when we gathered together, we shared words of welcome and inclusion? What if, when someone tries to spread fear or gossip or even lies about refugees or immigrants, we had a positive word to share?
What if, together, we can change the story to be about opening tables rather than building walls?