We were honored guests. We, who had paid great sums of money to cross the ocean and make a road trip around the nation of South Africa, were welcomed into worship and treated to a lavish luncheon by hosts who were living, in many cases, on little more than a dollar a day.
When the time came to bless the meal, the pastor of this congregation turned to me and asked me to do the blessing. I was surprised. I felt like an observer, not a participant. I’d assumed that’s how they’d been viewing me as well, but I was wrong. As the food was set out on the table and we rose from our chairs to give thanks for the rich abundance of God’s blessings in our lives, I could see Christ present at this table–not in the Africans or in the Americans, but in the unity of these sisters and brothers sharing a meal.
I stretched out my hands and thanked God for the beauty of the sky, wide enough to blanket both our lands, and for the ocean waters that touched both our shores, and for the rich earth out of which God had fashioned all of us and provided food for our meal. I blessed God, and asked God’s blessing on our table. The people gave their Amen.
This message is adapted from “At Every Table” written by Erik Christensen in the July/August 2012 issue of Gather magazine.