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A Seat at the Table

“Would you like some coffee or tea? No? Okay, Here’s some water”. Anyone who walks through CLF’s doors will be made to feel welcomed by Mina, our small business owner. The staff affectionately teases her calling her the foundation’s mother. The moniker is accurate. She will ensure you feel at home. You also see this care reflected in Thai culture. I can’t tell you how many times a day I’ve been asked, “Have you eaten?”. If you say “not yet”, you will be aggressively offered food your friend has prepared or purchased for herself. A meal intended for one will be stretched to feed more. You will be included.

Inclusiveness is a core value at CLF.

We are committed to both employ and serve people in need without restrictions based on gender, race, religion, nationality, etc.

At first glance the above reads like a blip in an HR manual, but put feet to it and it’s enactment mirrors the Kingdom of God.

The kitchen was abuzz during our Thanksgiving meal. Roti, Cambodian curry, Nepali curry, bananas,Thai snacks, mashed potatoes, and gravy were just a few of the dishes at our expanding table. I overheard the chefs chattering in about 4 different languages as we hurried to get the plates on the table before the food got cold. More people came than we expected so chairs had to be scavenged and cutlery got creative as we ran out of both. The dinner guests were as varied as the food we shared. We were affluent, poor, married, single, male, female, trans, christian, buddhist, and agnostic. The Kingdom of God indeed, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

December 1st marks the first day of Advent in the Christian tradition. It’s a period of waiting and expectation as we anticipate the birth of Jesus. The idea of the incarnation, God putting on flesh, in the person of Christ is the most radical example of what it means to embody inclusiveness. God so desires that we know we are one with the Divine that God shows up in the flesh. Humankind is not separated from God. We are one. We are included.

This type of radical inclusion did not happen by chance. It’s active-not passive. From the sacred action our Creator took in putting on flesh to the simple act of searching for more chairs and spoons at a Thanksgiving party,-action was taken. Active-not passive. When we exert the effort to make others feel included we show the world what the Kingdom of God looks like. We are living out the incarnation.

This Advent season, how can we include others? How can we expand our tables and our hearts so more are included? Maybe it’s reaching out to estranged family members, having awkward conversations with people whose politics or religion are different from our own, saying ‘Hello, have you eaten’? We are not so separate after all. Let’s have a seat at the table together.

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