Belinda Groves – 29 October 2017

Well, it’s hard to evaluate last Sunday’s Longest Morning Tea Table. There were some there from our Community Centre and friends, but there were not as many as we had hoped. So, in a way, it was a failed experiment, and yet it was still a very wonderful morning!

It was good to have the time to sit and talk to people and to have several such conversations. I met some newcomers and saw many old friends catching up. It was lovely to see the older folk sitting and chatting while the younger ones tossed a frisbee under the pine trees. So, after some discussion on Monday amongst the pastoral team, we have decided to put last Sunday in the category of highly successful failed experiments!

If we were to do something like it again we might want to consider a different time or format, or more advertising, but perhaps the most powerful form of social media is always the personal invitation!

One of our results from the National Church Life Survey was that 75% of us agreed that Canberra Baptist is always ready to try something new, and perhaps we can take heart from the evidence of that last weekend too.

In my welcome last Sunday I quoted from Kathleen Norris’s book Amazing Grace where she describes a dream she once had of heaven: “I once had a dream of being seated at a long banquet table, so long that I could not see the end of it. I am a dedicated bread baker, and I recall noticing that the quality of the bread was excellent. I was also pleased to recognise some of the people in the crowd. Emily Dickinson seated next to St Therese of Lisieux, Soren Kierkegaard seated across from them. I longed to hear the conversation. My grandparents were there, my aunts and uncles, my mother and father. Family, friends and strangers. A whole raft of Dalai Lamas, including the current one, his immediate predecessors, and also several infant Lamas-to-be. There was much lovely conversation, but it all sounded like song and was profoundly joyful… I woke with a sense of wonder at the grace of it all.”

That was my hope for last Sunday; that we would experience something of heaven, of a table so long we cannot see the end of it, of a gathering of people, all different, but engaged in lively conversation that sounds like song. But it is not just my hope for last Sunday, but my hope for every Sunday at Canberra Baptist Church, for every week of ministry and every gathering, for our future as a place where justice and faith and hospitality thrive, where people sit and serve at a table extending to eternity.

But that requires us to take risks, to experiment, to be open to others, to love. Norris says her favourite definition of heaven came from a friend, a Benedictine sister, who when her mother was dying, tried to reassure her, saying, “In heaven, everyone we love is there.” And her mother had responded, “No, in heaven, I will love everyone who’s there.” Amen to that!