I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people in my life who are lacking a church community yet are looking to fill a void in their lives that they can’t quite name. I’ve also been listening to the Happiness Lab podcast, and it offers up some interesting observations about the science of happiness and those of us that try to fill our voids with all of the wrong things. It explores the idea that what we think will make us happy, in actuality, does not. And those things that would make us happy are things that we have grown to avoid. For example, we think that the ease of the Starbucks mobile order app will make us happy because it saves us time, when in reality we might be a little bit happier if we took time to speak with someone in line or to make a connection with the barista. We think that sharing our carefully curated lives on social media will makes us happy, but we lack a true authenticity rooted in genuine relationships (which would make us happy). We want to be happy. As someone who finds their church community to be an invaluable source of happiness (most of the time), I wonder why organized religion often fails to spark holy joy in those who are still seeking it. I also wonder what it would look like to create a community that specializes in this joy.
For me, holy joy happens most often around the table. The table is the place where tough conversations, true emotions, and lost stories come to light. And I’ve asked myself, “Why is that?” Why is the table such a special place? Why does a hot meal or a cold beer break down perceived barriers to allow for genuine conversation and connection to happen?
If we look closely at the Christian scriptures, especially at the miracle in Cana where Jesus turns water into wine, we find a God who puts joy into life and who thinks it’s a miracle to keep the party going as we celebrate the community around us. The church has not always remembered to live into the joy of such a revelation. Even putting their best intentions into action, too often the church is perceived to be a place that promotes conformity and exclusivity. The feast at Cana is a sign to the church that we are called to rejoice with the people of God and toast the world with the amazing news of grace – grace we find at the table and in community with others. The grace we witness in Cana stands in stark contrast to rigidity and reminds us that where there is food, drink, music, and laughter there is an atmosphere of welcome, well-being and love.
This atmosphere is what we aim to create at The Junction. There is something holy in coming together at the table – the table that is set not just in our homes and in our churches, but the table that is set in and for our community, no strings attached. We are called to create a space in which the radical hospitality of Christ is front and center, where joy and happiness abound, and where barriers, both perceived and real, are erased. Because this is where we find joy and happiness, where people can come as they are to connect and to explore their faith, doubts, fears and joys around the table.
Welcome to the table.
Written by Amanda Kemery
Founder - The Junction