If you’re coming to Common Table on a Sunday morning, you’ll be enjoying the hospitality of our new partners in ministry, Church of the Good Shepherd. Park outside the north entrance to the building (*away* from the main Sanctuary), and follow the signs inside, down the hall to your left, and to the last room on your left. Where we will welcome you, and allow you to be as engaged or anonymous as you’d like. We’ll have some music playing, sometimes live but more often pre-recorded music from a carefully curated playlist. If you’ve got a keen ear, you may even get a clue as to our topic for the day as you listen. We truly value our relationships, so you’ll see less solemnity and more celebration as people greet one another and catch up. Looking around, you’ll see people wearing comfortable clothing, explaining a new tattoo or looking at their phone or sharing tales of political activism or swapping comic books or debating TV shows or talking to the kids or otherwise enjoying themselves. Of course, if you’re more low-key, you should feel free to grab a seat or otherwise occupy yourself (it’s okay to pretend to look at your phone to avoid conversation). In a few minutes we’ll interrupt and invite folks to enter into our worship experience for the day.
Yes, there will be some interruptions. Maybe a child (crying, nursing, playing outside the window, or offering their own input to the conversation), maybe someone knocking on the door, or maybe the loud hiss of the ventilation system. All of these things present challenges, but they also serve as a healthy reminder that we are not the center of the universe, and that our group exists on the margins of our culture. Too, these interruptions remind us that our group exists for the sake of the world, not the other way around.
We have Eucharist (aka ‘Communion’) each week, usually with the traditional Anglican liturgy we’ve used since our early days. When we say “Everyone is welcome,” we really mean it– you are free to partake (or not) regardless of your religion (or lack thereof), gender, orientation, age, or understanding of what the Eucharist is even about. Out of concern for those in recovery, we serve only grape juice (not wine), and we try to keep gluten-free bread on hand. You can dip, sip, or guzzle. And if you’re hungry, grab a whole piece of bread. It’s all good.
Our plans vary from week to week, but one thing remains constant: no one will tell you what to think. Or, perhaps more often, *many* people will tell you what *they* think, and why you should agree with them. But ultimately, our gatherings are a place for everyone to engage with an idea on their own terms, and to have the opportunity to express their views. We welcome dissenting opinions! We value diversity of thought! We feel very comfortable *not* drawing clear conclusions! In fact, we won’t conclude our times of discussion with the ‘official’ conclusion or the ‘right answer’. This is unusual, we know, and it can be uncomfortable at first, but we think it’s worth the effort.
At the same time, none of this means we are lackadaisical, or without conviction. Quite the contrary– you will see some passionate, activist, extremely engaged people. In fact, we hope to send you out each week with a divine mandate to love your neighbor, and serve the world! But not before we enjoy lunch (aka, “Full Eucharist”) together somewhere close by or at a church-wide potluck.
We usually gather at 10:15 a.m. on the first three Sunday mornings of each month at the Church of the Good Shepherd (UMC) in Vienna, Virginia, but please check / subscribe to our weekly On the Table announcement (to the right), or call 703.304.1161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to catch up with us, because sometimes we’re off trying to change the world, rather than just ourselves.