The month of February is a busy one for many folks. Families juggle sports schedules, school commitments and social events while others plan Super Bowl parties and gear up for that final NFL game of the season. Couples will find ways to say "I love you" through cards and chocolates on Valentine's Day and there will be a select number of people who will actually celebrate their birthday on February 29th this year (it's leap year, y'all!). It's still Winter, and the cold will remain for another month, but that won't keep people from staying busy, getting things done and being as productive as possible.
Similarly, our church is busy in February. In addition to our monthly missions group and business meetings, craft group meeting, choir rehearsals, Bible studies and worship services we also celebrate Deacon Nomination and Election month, trusting God to select the servant-leaders God yearns to use at UBC. The celebration continues as we hear about God's continual goodness and grace through the Baptist men and women of our church, state, nation and world. On February 16th, Baptist Men's Day gives the men of our church a chance to thank God for all the Spirit is doing in our midst and on February 23rd we will celebrate Baptist Women's Day and thank God likewise for the Spirit's work through mission and community engagement. We have a busy month, but a joyous month in February 2020 indeed! Yet, there is one event that is so very special to most of us, simply because it reminds us how much we care for one another and how much we love to spend time together.
I am speaking about our annual Church-wide Valentine's Meal at Town & Country restaurant in King, NC!
This year our Valentinue's meal will begin at 6:30pm, Monday, February 10th. We sit down to great food, enjoy splendid fellowship, and roses are given to those in attendance, reminding attendees that they are affirmed, appreciated and valued. Our church is so grateful that this dinner idea was birthed in the hearts of the UBC Baptist Men years ago! We look forward to gathering off-campus each year to celebrate the close, intimate friendships we uniquely share as a church family.
But I submit to you, dear loved ones, that this Valentine's gathering is more than just an event on a calendar. It's more than just a shared meal at a restaurant. And it's more than receiving beautiful roses. When we gather together at Town & Country, away from the hubbub and the busyness of our daily schedules, we pause to take seats around a table, next to a brother or sister in Christ. We find acceptance and peace, joy and comfort in the presence of our spiritual family. We thank God for food and fellowship as we pray before we eat, and we worship God through the lovely activity of laughter and through shared stories, familiar hugs and friendly pats on the back.
The Table of God's grace in Jesus Christ is call to remember the Last Supper on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion. The Table is a place where everyone is welcomed, where everyone is served, and where everyone is reminded of the church's purpose and mission. It is at the Table where we remember Jesus' words to us, that we are to follow Christ's humble mandate to serve another, "washing the feet" of those, not only at the Table among us but especially those who might not ever get invited to the Table (or even have a chance to get to the Table in the first place). The Table is a place to partake of the body of Christ, the bread and the wine, the body and the blood, and to know that Jesus gave his entire life in order to unite people at the Table in loving service to his Father and through the Holy Spirit. When we meet at Town & Country, we are seated at the Table of both rest and re-commitment, we are both comforted and challenged to love one another just as Christ has loved us (John 13:34). Here at the Table, we learn to love God with our entire selves and love our neighbor in humble self-love, too.
You see, what happens at the Table, doesn't stay at the Table--that love lives on through each one of us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who enables our ministries to engage our community for the sole purpose of glorifying God and enjoying the Lord forever.
So come to the Table of grace on Monday, February 10th at 6:30pm, Town & Country restaurant in King, NC. You'll find familiar faces and abundant laughter. You'll find rest and acceptance. You'll experience unspeakable joy.
And never forget that the grace-filled moment you share at the Table that night is the very dream God has for all people of all races, backgrounds and creeds. The Table is God's metaphor for the wedding feast of the Lamb of God, and he begs us to invite as many as we can to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34). The Table reminds us that we are welcomed, just as we are; therefore, we must leave the Table on the night of February 10th, empowered to welcome others to the Table of God's amazing grace through the life, death and resurrection of the Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
So, dear friends...approach the Table. It's a place where enemies are reconciled and forgiveness reigns supreme. It's a place where we finally come to realize that everyone needs the other, and has an equal seat before the Master. Our Valentine's Meal is so much more than eating and fellowshiping--it is truly, honestly, a picture of God's Love Feast, both now and in the yet-to-come. Amen.
The Table is a place where you belong. It's a place where all people belong.
Welcome to the Table. You're family here--always.
I'll save a seat for ya at the Table on Monday, Feb. 10th at 6:30pm!
><> Pastor Will <><