Nancy Donat


Reconciliation Around the Table
In Fresno, California

story
September 21, 2017
ITeams
ITeams

SEARCHING FOR RECONCILIATION

Powerful connection can occur when people gather around a table to share food and stories. What may seem like a simple activity demonstrates the beauty of peace and reconciliation. In fact, this seemingly simple act is transforming members of the community of Fresno, as our youth grow into strong leaders who seek reconciliation in a world that often highlights polarizing differences.

Working in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Fresno, California, reconciliation is difficult to obtain, and the process can be messy. Many of the kids in our youth group have friends and family that live in fear of being deported. So, when a national event happens, our youth have to talk about it.

We often talk about how Jesus came to reconcile people to himself and to each other. One way he did that was through sharing meals. At the Lord’s Supper, he set a table to bring his disciples into a radical community that pursues peace.

MODELING AFTER JESUS

So during youth group one night, we talked about the reconciliation that is needed in our world. These honest conversations led to our decision to host a “Love Feast” in our own community.

In the midst of people focusing upon differences, the youth group caught a vision of setting a table and inviting neighbors in our community to share a meal.

Everyone had a part to play. The youth took care of organizing food, set up, clean up, publicity, invitations, and speakers. We posted messages such as “You are welcome at the table” and “Welcome to Love Feast” on signs sprinkled throughout the community.

EVERYONE WELCOME AT THE TABLE

We held the Love Feast in our youth pastor’s backyard. Many local officials attended, including members of the police department and an official from the mayor’s office. They joined parents and families from our neighborhood to eat and talk.

“Love Feast wasn’t just about the food, but it was people and families getting together and knowing one another to become one,” said one youth group member.

"I like how it was diverse and everyone got along with each other as one big happy family,” said another.

Believing that reconciliation can happen around a table while sharing food and stories, we watched with joy as our youth led the way. By the end of the night, they felt really good about what they accomplished. They’d love to do it again in a park where even more people may show up!

Through the simple act of sharing a meal, they were able to bring a diverse group of people together, and we all learned that we have more in common than we knew.