LAUMC has always been a place that values community, the connections that grow between people who come to church here. This church has been a place for people who find their way here, to learn and to practice what it means to “love your neighbor”—which is, as Jesus said, the greatest commandment, right up there with loving God.
This Lent, we are imagining together the possibility that when Jesus said “Love your neighbor,” he meant your actual neighbor. The one who lives right next door to you, or down the street, or around the corner. Someone who never goes to church and probably isn’t interested in coming to church, but who could really use a friend.
Instead of asking you to give something up or take on a solitary spiritual practice this Lent, your church is inviting you be part of a community practice of loving God more by loving, in a concrete and generous and maybe even risky way, your actual neighbors.
This practice is taking shape in a campaign called 200 Tables. The hope is that sometime this spring, our whole congregation will have stretched ourselves to host at least 200 dinners in our homes, shared with our actual neighbors. This is not about one-time or even annual block parties. It’s about gathering people who live in the same neighborhood—adults and children—to sit around a table together, sharing food and conversation about things that matter, about knowing each other’s lives.
Most of us have not done this before: knock on the door of someone you don’t know and ask them to come to your house for dinner. So we’ve published a little book, called the 200 Tables Guidebook, to help you do this. It’s got all kinds of ideas and suggestions in it to make this easier: how to invite people and what to say, what to cook, what to talk about over dinner. You can pick up a copy on Sunday at church, or during the week in the church office, or you can request a copy of the 200 Tables Guidebook by email.
This will be hard. It will require of us some different form of generosity and hospitality than we usually exercise. Maybe giving up of some things we enjoy about our privacy and separation from other people. Does that sound like Lent to you?