Bring it to the Table and thoughts on the events of last week

  February 14 and 16, and beyond.

 I started gathering the questions for the Lenten Bring it to the Table series quite a while ago. My goal was to offer opportunities to practice conversation with each other - some serious questions, some silly, some easy, some maybe a little harder. The hope was to help us all grow in our relationships with God, others, and creation through dialog. 

I suggested conversation around food at a table because the table can be such a great place to talk. A place to experience some of those scary words like vulnerability and intimacy. A place to practice the hard work of listening to someone – not to debate, not to fix, not to lecture – just to listen.

And I figured Lent was an excuse to practice. Lent’s a great time to try out things you might or might not want to continue. That is called a limited commitment. And love is at the center of it.

From Ash Wednesday:

Lent is a time for giving up things that keep us from being loving people. 
Lent is a time to be more aware of how much God loves us.
Lent is a time to be more aware of 
what it means to love others as God loves us. 
Lent is to say we are sorry that we don’t love others as God loves us.
Lent is a time to ask God to help us to be more loving. 

Then, the school shooting took place in Florida last Wednesday. Time paused for just a moment.

As voices began to raise, I realized “bring it to the table” has a bigger meaning than just family or friends. As a community, a nation, a world, we also have to talk to each other, and we must do the much more difficult task of listening to each other.  

Then, on Friday we learned that, during our last election cycle, a foreign country managed to deliberately create an even bigger political/ideological rift than we already had as nation (which was pretty gigantic without any help). Did you ever read some of that ugliness online during the campaign?  We know now that in many cases, the initial incendiary was in fact a purposeful, deceitful post by those outside the USA to disrupt and divide our country – and it worked. We were quite hateful to each other at the time. Actually, we are still hateful, still divided; the “deplorables” and the “snowflakes” still snipe continually at each other, turning innocent comments into warfare.

And yet… somehow, we have to bring it to the table. 
Jesus told us to love our enemies; I’m pretty sure that includes deplorables and snowflakes. 
Love is greater than hate; God offers us the hope we need for this moment.

Centered in God’s grace, Lutherans have worked hard to be a community of “moral deliberation”. That means we have tried to be a community where open, passionate, and respectful deliberation on challenging and controversial issues of contemporary society is expected and encouraged. Sometimes that has worked pretty well for us Lutherans, and sometimes, not so much. But one of the identified reasons we have struggled along at this is so that we as a church and as individuals can contribute toward the up-building of the common good and the revitalizing of public life through open and inclusive processes of deliberation.

In other words, we can invite others to bring it to the table. 
Actually, we do invite all to the table.

The youth of this last shooting are demanding change. People are beginning to think that there is a conspiracy afoot. "Kids can't be that organized."

We have got to drop suspicions and blame and bring it to the table: What can we do to curtail the increasing incidences of mass shootings? 

Sh-h-h. Don’t shout your answer. Listen instead. And please, stay at the table.

Feel free to use the comments section as one of your tables of respectful dialog. 

For more on Lutherans and their moral deliberation

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245