What I found most convicting about the entire documentary was the story of a father of one of the escaped sheep from the family. He sat on the porch of his prodigal son for 30 days---and fasted and prayed---imploring God to change the heart and mind of his lost son. While I cannot agree with the tenants of their faith in many areas, the sense of community and the import of family are difficult to ignore.
The film ended with a statement from one of the Amish. Now in fairness--I have never read of this practice in any other place--but I quote the messenger-
"If a boy or girl leave the home, their place at the table is always set. Nobody else sits there. So three times a day, they know there’s a place waiting for me. That's a very powerful thing."
What a beautiful word picture--the empty place waiting for the return of the lost loved one. A family incomplete-with an open invitation to take your place at the table again.
As the documentary progressed, the one common theme was how much each person interviewed missed their family and community after leaving them. Some even eventually returning to the harshness of the rules, in order to enjoy the inclusion into family and community.
So it is with us all--our need for community, family--inclusion into a social network. Struggling through this world alone is not our preferred mode of travel.
Many of us sit at a table alone and others sit at a table with an empty seat---some with no hope of ever filling that seat again. When eating alone, I avoid the table always--it is a stark reminder of my aloneness. But there is still joy in sitting at the table of family or friends--even with an empty seat.
There is one table where we are always welcome to sit ---one table filled with the community of believers---one table for the family of God.
“All who have faith in Jesus Christ are welcome at this table.”
This table always has a seat for us--and Jesus invited us all to come and partake.
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
He has saved us a seat---and is waiting for us to sit at His table.