Yesterday, I found myself sitting down, face to face, around a table four different times. The first time I was teaching conversational English to several Spanish students, a couple of Poles, a Romanian, a Brazilian, and a Korean. Although the proficiency in English varies greatly from student to student at these Thursday morning classes, more times than not, genuine connections are made from person to person. We discover that our shared humanity more than compensates for our differing backgrounds, cultures, and countries.
A little while later I was sitting at our dining table with two good friends and my best friend, Juli. This wasn't just a casual conversation. It was born out of a shared passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ and Christian community. At the end of our 3 hour discussion, we had all grown closer together and closer to Christ.
The third conversation occurred about an hour later in the city centre. We are beginning to study Paul's letter to the Romans at our Thursday evening Dublin Coffee Shop Bible Studies. Last night we were meant to read the entire letter but didn't quite manage all of the chapters as we constantly paused from the reading to discuss what we had just read. Four Irish-persons and a graciously received American were sitting down, face to face, around a table full of empty coffee mugs and pastry plates discussing how the gospel so relevantly interacts with real life. A lady who joined us for the first time mentioned that she is excited to begin to study the Bible as it is something she's never really explored. Biblical exploration is best done in the context of community, so I think she's found a great platform from which to begin.
Later in the evening, a couple more of my friends joined me around the table at a local watering hole. Although we never opened our Bibles (scripture was quoted & probably misquoted throughout the evening), the entire conversation from first to last was centered on how Easter shapes and molds our lives - how it makes all the difference. One of my friends remarked that we should all be prepared to throw away our traditions and world-views if that's what Jesus calls for. That's what the original disciples had to do. Words worth considering.
There's something powerful about sitting down, face to face, around a table. Connections are made, relationships are deepened, and life is enriched. I can't think of a better way for faith to be shared and received. Can you? - Shay