Letter to the Editor: Invite Everyone to the Table

domenico-fetti

Re Beyond the Rules, April

Throw outcasts, beggars and needy into the trash!

Yes, I mean it. Once we get rid of outcasts, needy, homeless, convicts, addicts, and beggars, the world will be a better place.

I was reading a really great story in the Presbyterian Record this month, “Beyond the Rules” by Rev. Dr. Laurence De Wolfe, and he had a great point. While reading it however, it struck me hard that I read he suggested we invite outcasts to our table. Who wants to do that? Obviously, that’s the point … but it struck me hard, because I have been struggling with this my whole life… the outcasts and the needy that is. I have always worked on the sidelines with other community members, and even I would not like to invite an outcast to dinner. Nor would I want to be the outcast invited to said dinner.

Imagine knowing that I have invited you to dinner because I believe I am doing Christ’s work by inviting a down-trodden, an unfortunate, a needy, to my table. I know we don’t think this when we do the invite. Using certain words to describe anyone reduces them to that word. We can’t possibly appreciate the complexities of the person who God created. I’m sorry to be so blunt, and I mean no disrespect to the Rev. Dr., but the church as a whole has to begin to realize that there is no us and them … the outcasts and the saved. I know we don’t think it, but we state it often. There are only people, people having different experiences in life due to their circumstances, and sometimes choices, but mostly due to past trauma. All people struggle, some struggle and are shunned by society, and some of us struggle, and still fit in. University educated people sometimes live in squalor. People struggle to see the purpose in their lives, and try to live as fully as they can at that moment. We could be living in a tent, or a mansion. We could have a boat, or a dog. We could have an addiction, or self-mutilate, or none of the above. We all struggle.

We have been pretty good as a progressive church, at addressing old language in other cases. We seldom use words that no longer work for worshippers, such as Father God, and Sinners, and Saved ones … and more. However these other words have slipped by, and continued on, and so I wanted to put a bug in everyone’s ear. Please, it does no person any good by calling people names, putting people into boxes, just because that is the translation of the word we read in the Bible. So yes, let us invite everyone to the table, as we are, and sit with each other, whomever we are, as equals. With God in our midst, we are all more than our struggles. Then, we can throw out the outcasts and the needy and the addicts into the trash where they belong.

Thanks for listening, and amen.

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About Marlene Buwalda-Liao, via email