Across from my desk in my office hangs an icon of the Holy Trinity. I confess that I hung it there because it was the only picture that would fit into an awkward space. But I think that God had other designs. When I look up and allow my eyes to be drawn into the icon, I see not only the three angels gathered around a table, I see an open space. Two of the figures are beckoning to that opening. And that is the space that is reserved for us.
They’ve saved a place at the table for us and we are being invited to join them. It implies that the feast won’t be complete without your presence; it just won’t be the same without you.
I’ve never gotten over that invitation; I also know not everyone shares that kind of experience. So my life’s mission, my passion, is to let people know about the place at the table reserved for them.
I’m a church planter and when I began my parish, Holy Comforter, it was with this Scripture in mind, “For you are no longer strangers but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
I want people to always know that they are members of God’s home and are already known by God even if they don’t know the Lord. I had a banner put up over the entrance to the church that read “Welcome Home.” I had someone ask me if the banner was left over from a Homecoming Sunday and I had to tell them that for us every Sunday is a homecoming.
The invitation isn’t to come to church, it’s to come into the presence of the Living God; the Jesus who has power to change lives. This Jesus has the power to save – not just saving a place in heaven like some kind of divine parking spot – but the power to work in our lives here and now.
It’s Jesus working in us to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. That’s the Jesus I know; that’s the invitation I’ve never gotten over and never want to.
I now know that there isn’t one call in our lives but a series of calls or invitations from God for different seasons of our lives. And I know that some of you are still waiting for that call, wondering what it will be like.
It’s something like this. First, you become aware of God’s presence in your life. It may be as soft as feeling your heart strangely warmed doing the most ordinary of things, like taking out the trash or walking the dog, and you realize you are not walking alone. You have connected with the Divine. Or better put, the Divine has connected with you.
My mother told me of an encounter with the Holy One she had while doing housework. She was making up a bed when she was overcome by the love of Jesus. She said out loud, “Jesus, I love you.” And then she heard, “I love you too, Janice.”
That is an experience of coming into the presence of Jesus. You become aware of God calling you to God’s self. Your response to all of this is known as taking a step in faith or, even better, a leap of faith. William Sloan Coffin said, “I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap and then you grow wings.”
In all areas of life we are called to go and tell, serve and minister. That is the command Jesus gave his disciples, “to go into the world baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” There are going to be times when we don’t want this responsibility. But remember the faith and trust Jesus has in us. He’s done a good job in raising us and calling us. Jesus has saved a place for you at the table, not just for you to come in and sit, but for you to go out and bring others to the table.
So let your faith be reckless when you respond to Jesus’ call. Take the leap of faith and you’ll find that the wings that sprout are those of God’s own Holy Spirit letting you soar.
The Rev. Cynthia Taylor is the pastor of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Martinez.