Guest Post: Toward a Global Table
The first time I arrived at The Local Church, I was invited into a stranger’s home to share a meal and to ask questions of one another that I wouldn’t dare ask a stranger on the bus. Consider, for example: “What is your deepest longing for yourself? For the world?” At its surface, an evening in which a community of strangers invites you in, and serves you a delightful baked potato in exchange for all of your secrets does not sound particularly fun. Upon further review, however, this is precisely what our communities need the most.
In my first visit, while breaking bread together, it became apparent that I was not the only newcomer. The community is still growing, and what it looks like week to week in each home is fluid. The Local Table is built upon a foundation of bold, radical inclusivity, rooted in a longing to share the love of Christ where we are. But what makes the Local Table so special is that this community recognizes that communities are dynamic. People come and go, constantly refreshing the shape of the entire population. The Local Church is building communities in shared spaces that are designed to be a constant within this constant reshaping, regardless of who shows up any given Monday (or Thursday. Or, this fall, Sunday and Wednesday). The foundation of bold and radical inclusivity is what remains constant.
In my brief time within this community, those who have visited this sacred space before establish this notion that asking difficult questions—but doing so with the intent to understand one another—around this shared table matters. That each individual’s answer to the question of what we want most desperately for ourselves and for this world matters. It is a culture of recognizing one another’s voice, and it is infectious to those who are new. Our communities need this. Sure, it may only happen in one stranger’s home at a time. However, because communities are dynamic, and our presence may be transient, we who have visited the Local Table can bring this radical inclusivity into whatever new community becomes home next.
The t-shirts and the wristbands say “Love Where You Are.” The Local Table is designed to equip each of us who attend to do just that. I started graduate school at UNC in Global Public Health just a month ago, which means I have spent many good hours getting acquainted with the buzzwords, catchphrases, and central guiding principles that define the field of “Global Public Health.” My favorite one of these preaches that “Global is Local.” Global health, in other words, begins locally. I hope to continue keeping the Local Table a constant in my life over the next few years while I am in school. It is a critical reminder to me. Ask difficult questions. Boldly include one another. And “Love Where You Are.” The hope is that one day if each of us can bring this Christ-like love with us wherever we go, the Local Table will one day be a Global Table.
Matt Paysour is a life-long pastor's kid, an appreciator of old books (partially for the words, partially for the musty library smell), and, with a future in Public Health & Nutrition, a ravenous advocator for eating food with other people. Join a Local Table beginning September 17, and you just might meet him!