Keeping the Table Extended

In the normal scheme of things, this would be a ‘guest post’, as Kathryn wrote it! But I’m hopeful she’ll keep going and this will become a shared blog – your encouragement is welcome!

Last week we received difficult news as a family. We were given the news that our wonderful, bright, energetic and loving almost-teenager was unwell – the cancer that has been part of his life for three years now, and has twice been treated with the strongest of treatments, has returned once again and this time there is no treatment that will make it go away. We are gradually taking in the reality of this…

One night last week we had some friends from church round for dinner. Our kitchen isn’t particularly big but our table is! It has two extra sections for extending its length to be able to seat up to 12 people at a squeeze. Last week we added one extra section and had 9 around the table. It was noisy! We had been looking forward to doing this for a while and it was just what we had been hoping for! When our friends went home we pondered whether or not to reduce the table in size but my heart told me to keep it extended…

You see, as a family we’ve been on a journey of God reframing our imagination for what it looks like for us to be part of God’s mission. Over several years God has been showing us what it means to live as family on mission – a family “moving forward in mission as a pack, as a covenant family with a kingdom mission” (Mike and Sally Breen – Family on Mission). For us as an immediate family this means that we believe that the six of us have a shared mission – we are called to be part of God’s mission as a family. It also goes wider than that – we believe that churches serve God’s mission best when they also live as family on mission. This involves a shift in thinking, away from living lives as individual Christians who meet up at church on Sunday and run church programmes together, towards living as an extended family, listening to God and asking the Spirit to show us the shared places we are being called to.

We always imagined that for us, living as family on mission involved inviting people into our lives and our home as part of the family, building meaningful real community where people, both those who are part of a church community and those who aren’t, can find hope and healing in Jesus. Living as family on mission hasn’t quite worked out how we had hoped over the last few years. Life has been smaller, our home has been more private, we’ve had to batten down the hatches and keep colds and sickness out to protect our son for the long run. In the last few months as he recovered from his most recent bone marrow transplant we had started to relax, started to think and pray again about the possibilities… We looked at the patterns of our week and picked a night of the week to set aside to invite people over to sit around the table with us.

Who would have thought that the news we received about our son last week would come on exactly the same week when we were starting to live hopefully into these new patterns of life as family on mission? As we’ve tried to process the enormity of the news we received last week there is one thing that we know for sure… we’re keeping the table extended. We have no idea what this looks like… For the time being we can have well people in our home and we will continue to do this for as long as we can. Thankfully keeping the table extended is not limited to the physical reality of our wooden kitchen table and the actual act of having people in our home – it goes beyond that to walks in the park, the school gate, coffee shops, hospital wards and more… We hope we will approach the weeks and months ahead listening out for God at work in our everyday reality and trying with whatever strength we have, to join in. We trust that with God’s help we will know how to do this.

18 thoughts on “Keeping the Table Extended

  1. What an inspiration and what a challenge!!
    Praying that you will continue to be filled with that peace of God that is beyond our understanding, and that you will continue to know his strength and guidance as you walk hand in hand with Him.

  2. That’s just so lovely!!
    Thinking of u all as a family moving forward together.
    Keep the table extended!!!
    for Gods best for you all as a family!!! & for Gods healing power to flow through Timothy again!!!
    Do it again God!!!

  3. This is so beautifully written❤️
    Praying for all your wonderful family-keep extending that table and asking God for a miracle of healing ❤️

  4. Kathryn you and Ross have always been model to follow, part of our family regular prayer life. Always part of our extended family. Love to all of you, Lustys

  5. Love the philosophy of getting together with others, across the generations. May you be blessed as you share and receive – you are all in our hearts and prayers

  6. As I read this, I had a picture of your kitchen..table extended, and lots and lots and LOTS of people crowding into your kitchen and gathering around you 6 as you are sitting…and I felt these are all of us who are your God- family, who are lifting you up to the throne in intercession…so you sit..sit, break bread together, laugh, cry. At this table….and we will all be around your table surrounding you in love and prayers…
    We pray for you all EVERY time we eat..
    All our love, John & Melxx

  7. Inspiring words. Thank you for sharing.
    I’m in awe at the beautiful attitude of your heart expressing love and care towards others and your desire for God while journeying through such a difficult season.
    May you know the presence of God at your extended table and everywhere you Mission.
    Love and prayers

  8. Love this, we extend our kitchen table every week for being church with our life group. Keeping all of you in our prayers xx

  9. Kathryn, this is beautiful. We could all do with more people in our world who hold their arms out a little wider, to embrace others. You’ve done just that. Hope your table is noisy with laughter!! God bless and hold you all.

  10. Kathryn you are inspirational as a woman of God as a wife and mother too. You have a calling to keep your table extended but you always did that. Your family have been part of our family for years and we love you all even if we don’t see you we think of you all daily. Praying for you all at this difficult time. Love you all Lorna

  11. This blog also feels like extending your table: you are inviting us all to be part of your dinner time chat on how to live hopeful, loving, faith driven lives as a family under extrordinary stress. Thank you for your welcome, Kathryn. It was good to sit with you for a moment.

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