Crowded Tables

A postcard from the 7th Sunday after Pentecost 07/11/21

Tiger lilies for the altar flowers for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost at the Church of the Messiah in Heflin.

God has a plan.

The 7th Sunday after Pentecost begins seven weeks of reading through Ephesians. While the letter claims to be from Paul, marked differences in style, phrasing, and viewpoint lead most scholars to believe that it was written by a disciple of Paul. This letter was likely written in the last part of the 1st century CE to a gentile church that seem to have little perception of being part of Israel. There is no single crisis or event that is the occasion for the letter, and it is theorized that this was a general letter intended for many churches. It is a letter that gives a comprehensive and cohesive portrait of God’s plans and purposes. (Background taken from book intro, HarperCollins Study Bible)

Each week, we will look to the passages from Ephesians from the perspective of these questions: What does it look like to live rooted in reconciliation with God and neighbor? How do we practice it in radical ways?

The opening passage [Ephesians 1:3-14] invites us to consider what it means for us to be chosen, redeemed, and sealed in Christ as part of God’s family. The passage is not just about our individual salvation, but sets the scope of the mystery of God’s will as gathering all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth. We are called on to imagine as big as we can and then add one more.

Since we are adopted into the family of God through Christ, we often talk about the church as a family. It is perhaps the most apt metaphor for the church. Most of have experienced the connection, the joy, and the pain that family offer. Looking at the church as a family perhaps keeps our expectations realistic.

In thinking of the church as family through the lens of this opening passage from Ephesians, I was reminded of the lyrics to a song called “Crowded Table” by the Highwomen: “The door is always open / Your picture’s on my wall / Everyone’s a little broken / And everyone belongs / Yeah, everyone belongs / I want a house with a crowded table / And a place by the fire for everyone.”

In God’s family, there is always room for one more at the table.

A sermon from the Church of the Messiah in Heflin:

“What this beautiful passage from Ephesians challenges us to do is to imagine the fullness of God’s family, and then add one. To imagine the limits of God’s saving work in creation, and then add one.”

Audio only available here

Coming next

We continue our exploration of the Letter to the Ephesians. What does it look like to live rooted in reconciliation with God and neighbor? How do we practice it in radical ways?

  • July 18 – Off the road / “Aliens Brought Near” Eph. 2:11-22
  • July 25 – Off the road / “God’s Powerful Love” Eph. 3:14-21
  • August 1 – St. Barnabas, Roanoke / “Bound Together” Eph. 4:1-16
  • August 8 – Messiah, Heflin / “Making Peace” Eph. 4:25 – 5:2
  • August 15 – Messiah Heflin / “Overflow” Eph. 5:15-20
  • August 22 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro / “Teamwear” Eph. 6:10-20

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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