Home is a place where everyone is welcome

Table: When I think of welcome, I think of a table.

It is at the table that so much of life happens. The table refers to the people we welcome and who welcome us (friends, family, work etc.)
1. Spend some time sharing about the funny experiences you have had around your table.
2. How are things going around your table right now?

Word: The Bible shows that everyone is welcome at God’s table.

All through the Bible we see mentions of the Table. The Scriptures point to the truth that everyone is welcome at God’s table (though not everyone chooses to come).
3. Read the story of Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9). Spend some time reflecting on the kind of welcome that King David shared (and how it reflects God’s heart).
All through history people have been trying to earn their place at the table. Jesus was killed because of who he welcomed at his table (they saw holiness according to who they excluded, Jesus saw it according to who He included). Table represents: grace, trust, belonging, acceptance, welcome.
4. Read the Parable of the Banquet (Matthew 22). Spend some time discussing the challenge and the comfort found in this parable.
5. Read Luke 5:27-31. What does this tell us about Jesus and His purpose of coming to earth?

Welcome: Home is a place where everyone is welcome.

At times we can scandal at the fact that God welcomes people to His table. Yet welcome does not equate to approval. Welcome simply acknowledges our mutual standing as humans wrecked by sin and yet drenched in grace. Change cannot happen without welcome. For if welcome hinges upon change we have moved out of relationship and into religion. And religion may make for pretty externals but it makes a crummy foundation. Religion may change behaviour but only relationship can change the heart. When we welcome someone it doesn’t mean we approve of what they do, just that we accept them as they are.
6. Read Romans 5:1-11. Reflect on God’s acceptance of us (while not approving of what we do). Spend some time discussing why it is hard to get these two things (acceptance v. approval) right?
An empty seat does not mean God is not at work (don't give up, stop comparing). Just because there is an empty seat doesn't mean you have failed. If that was the case then God would be the ultimate failure (because humanity has left many empty seats at His table). An empty seat just means they haven't come to their senses. An empty seat could mean a distant relationship, a fight, someone not walking with God. We cannot control the empty seat, but we can control how we act in response.
7. Spend some time discussing the empty seats in your table. Pray for God’s grace to work in their lives.
“God is calling us to widen our arms a little bit more”. We love the idea of welcoming others devoid of the reality of welcoming. To be the welcoming community that God calls us to be will actually cost something. It will get uncomfortable and awkward as we meet people unlike us.
8. Spend some time sharing how God is challenging you to widen your arms and welcome others.
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