From Welcoming to Belonging

“My sister, Sara, passed away 6 years ago. She would have been 50 years old
this year. She died from complications from a rare genetic bone disease called
Osteogenesis Imperfecta, sometimes called Brittle Bone Disease. She was born
“different”, but we, as a family, adapted to a new normal where Sara didn’t feel
different, but just one of us.

She belonged.

We succeeded. When Sara was around 5 or 6 years old, she exclaimed at the
dinner table one night, “I think I finally realized why I’m “handicapped”. I’m the
only one in the family that’s left handed.” Truer words had never been spoken.
She was the only the one in our family who was left handed. And if that’s how
she perceived her disability, that was fine with us.

Journey Church is certainly a place where we felt welcomed. We started coming
in person around April or May of 2021. With masks on, it was hard to see and be
seen. But we kept coming, drawn by the need to meet new people, and find a
new church home. But the desire of our hearts was to belong – to be in an
authentic relationship with a spiritual family.

There’s a big difference between feeling welcomed and belonging. I feel
welcomed at Publix, and Starbucks, at Moe’s (“Welcome to Moe’s!”). I’m
welcomed at Walmart by greeters. Belonging requires a different level of
commitment. The Table was that bridge for us.

The Table can be a bit scary. Having dinner with strangers, in a stranger’s house,
is not something we’re used to. It requires vulnerability, getting outside our
comfort zone, and practice. But if you see the folks that Jesus shared a table
with, you’ll see the same thing. Not only did Jesus share a meal with people that
were different, some of them were outright enemies, having absolutely no reason
whatsoever to share any kind of anything together.

Through table fellowship, Jesus not only taught us that everyone is welcomed at
the table, but everyone belongs at the table. As believers, we belong in
relationship to one another, not matter who we are. We have met so many
newcomers to Journey, and Nashville, at our table. We’ve sensed a great need
for belonging, to be more seen and known. Particularly as we emerge from the
isolation of the past 2 years.

Sara used a wheelchair most of her life. To provide a greater sense of belonging,
my parents bought each of us a different style of chair at the dinning room table,
so that a wheeled-chair didn’t stand out. Each of us had a unique chair. All
belonged. That’s the invitation to all of us at The Table. You belong. You’re chair
is waiting. Join us!

Chase Ezell and his wife Melanie are enjoying that empty nest life in Brentwood, TN. When they aren’t visiting their two daughters, they are having people over for dinner and great conversations.

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