Even though I’ve heard it repeated, the story is told regularly and goes like this:
Donald, roughly 3-5 years old sitting at the kitchen table during family dinner. I see a booster seat need based on my age.
Mom: Donald, you have to eat your brussel sprouts before you can get up from the table.
Donald: I don’t like them.
Mom: Well, you’re going to have to eat them before you get up from the table. I don’t think you’ve ever tried them before.
Donald: I don’t like them. I’m not going to eat them.
Dad: You will sit right there until you eat them. Conversation over.
While usually allowed to disagree, the “conversation over” card means be quiet or else. To speak is bad news.
The story apparently plays out that I sit at the table, refusing to eat my brussel sprouts, (I imaging a cigarette in mouth and newspaper in hand, but it’s likely that I went between whining and being way to cool to make eye contact for the next SEVERAL HOURS. I ultimately refused to eat the brussel sprouts (a food I now love), and sat at the table, triumphant, got a spanking, triumphant, and went to bed, crying…..and triumphant.
I have friends, some considered by me as close as family, who live and work in the ordinary ways of nonprofit work in Cape Town, South Africa. Their stories seems incredible, but it mimics the news reports here in Jackson, the news reports in Chicago, and the news reports all over the globe. In the community that Fusion finds themselves in, Manenberg, in Cape Town, SA , there have multiple shootings resulting in multiple deaths lately. A community mourns, and the church wonders what is next.
I’m sure churches there, like churches here, continue to worry about issues of childcare and women in leadership and politics and budgets and music styles and whatever else occupies time. And still, Christians there, like Christians here, are finding themselves standing in the spaces where lives have been lost, injustice smells like dried blood and spent gunpowder, and are wondering what it means to follow Christ.
And there’s something valuable in ways that transcend time and space about protesting at the table.
Friends in Manenberg serve soup on the very same pavement and dirt spaces where lives have been lost and chalk outlines could have washed out by now. The value of a meal shared together overcomes the injustice and lack of shalom that leads to violence in the streets in Manenberg, and in Jackson, and in Nicaragua, and around the globe.
And so a group of believers end up deciding that while the believe in the hard facts of guns and gunfire and bullets and death and blood and chalk outlines, they believe something about the table to be healing and to be hope calling and hope inducing, so they serve soup in the very spaces where lives have been lost.
And they proclaim that Christ is king and kingdom comes. Ultimately. Always.
I sat at the communion rail today, accepting the sacraments of his body and blood, both knowing what they mean and at the same time accepting that I have no idea what I’m actually doing. I look across the others at the communion rail. I look across the others in the room. Drama fills the air. Frustration fills the space.
But the space at the table is a space of shared protest, promise, and therefore hope.
All is not well, but all will be well.
The world goes not well, but the kingdom comes.
It comes in Manenberg, South Africa. Soup is served in the spaces where lives have been lost.
It comes in Jackson, Tennessee. Peace is accepted in the spaces where insecurities breed.
It comes in our hearts. The future is claimed for kingdom come while the present is unclear as to how it gets here.
His kingdom come
His will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Who knows how.
We pray not knowing how to pray.
And the table becomes a place of protest.
And kingdom comes.
Pine Tree Dr.