Who's at your table: Compass 74

It's easy to exist in an echo chamber these days. But the holidays, and Jesus' story, remind us that beloved community neither begins nor exists in spaces where everyone else is just like us. Beloved community begins when we are intentional about participating in settings where we may not have much in common with some other participants.

 

This episode is a conversation between co-hosts Pierce Drake and Ryan Dunn. They discuss the age-old, but always relevant question of "What would Jesus do?"--as the question relates to community, gathering, and relationships in our 21st-century context.

 

 

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Transcript:

Ryan Dunn:

Well, this is the compass podcast where we disrupt the everyday with cleanses of the divine. My name is Ryan Dunn.

Pierce Drake:

My name is Pierce Drake and

Ryan Dunn:

Pierce we're in a season where we're going to start gathering a lot around a lot of tables. And you know, speaking of disruptions, Jesus does something really disruptive at the latter part of his ministry, he kind of repurposes the table gathering. You know, we commemorate this some churches every Sunday, at least once a month in most of our churches where we pass out with little bits of bread and little bits of grape juice or wine. And we're reminiscing this, the subversive act where Jesus says, Hey, when you gather together and you eat of this bread and you drink of this wine, do so in remembrance of me, kind of this repurposing of, of well, of a gathering into something that is holy. And even though we're called together for holy purposes together at tables in this holiday season sometimes it doesn't feel that holy, so maybe, maybe we'll get into talking about that a little bit about what we're doing when we're gathering at these tables, how we can maybe reframe it into a, into a purposeful or holy calling and yeah, how we can, how we can be more directional about really giving a sense of presence into that.

Ryan Dunn:

But we'll get into that first. Let's go old school a little bit. Pierce, how goes it with your soul?

Pierce Drake:

Yeah. How it goes it with my soul. I think my soul actually, interestingly enough, feels really refreshed right now. I think, I think part of that is the fact that we just finished, you know, last week we finished the 30 days and the four gospels, just kind of reading the gospels together through our rethink group Facebook page, which you are, we'd love to see you in there and hope you join that. And so that was just a great time to a rhythm to my day of, of spinning every morning, intentionally in the gospels and knowing that I was doing it with a community, you know? And so that is refreshing. And then, you know, we got to have these zoom calls, which we've talked about and, and got to meet people and talk about Jesus and what we're learning. So all that to say, like, you know, that, that is, that has been at the top of, of my kind of rhythms the last few days and last few weeks, specifically 30 days.

Pierce Drake:

And and so that has definitely brought hopefully for all of us that have participated, brought new perspective, brought new encounters with Jesus. And and so therefore, you know, encounters with Jesus and learning about Jesus and spending time with him hopefully brings the same spirit of the fruit of the spirit. So peace love, joy and happiness and the, and the, and the more like, so so yeah, I would say that I'm restful, I'm excited. We have not Claire and I have not really, my wife has not really taken off much. We took off a week in the summer and that was about it. And so we leave and we will be spending Thanksgiving way and with family and friends. And so I'm really looking forward to some time away. My, my daughter is going to get disband she's two and a half years old and she's never been to my parent's house, which is just crazy. And and so we're going to go spend a few days with my parents and then do a little bit of traveling.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. Oh, good for you. I'm glad to hear that. You're so refreshed. Yeah. I'm not feeling that way honestly. So, you know, like I am a nine on the Enneagram scale, I'm a total people pleaser that kind of deal. And when there's conflict around, like I just kind of feel it. And too often, I, I internalize that a little bit and certainly there's just like, you don't need to look far to find conflict in our world. And for some reason it keeps bubbling up into my, into my direct vision lately. So yeah, just kind of feeling the weight of that conflict.

Pierce Drake:

Hmm. I'll tell you what I did recently. I have not thought about this till, till right now in this moment in the, in the correlation to my piece. I completely not only deleted all social media off my, like the apps off my phone, but I went into the restricted websites and put them on the restricted websites on my phone about a month ago, probably three, four weeks. So some of that, I was just spending way too much time on them and felt convicted of it. And so I took the apps down and then I found myself just on the internet, on my phone, you know, with like adapt for Facebook attached for Instagram tab for Twitter. And and so so anyway, yeah, you can have on your phone, you can have like restricted websites, you know, and I utilize utilize that.

Pierce Drake:

I mean, I have no shame in sharing this. I mean, by no means have I had, I had a 12 year addiction to pornography. And so there are certain websites that I know are triggers for me. And so I have them set on my phone. And so I went in there and so it's like, you know, it's important websites and then it is Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. But but it's been really interesting to see that I'm not hopping on my computer to look at that kind of stuff. And and so so I really have to be intentional about when I even get on Facebook and different things. And, and so I say that, just say, like, I'm not seeing all the bickering. Yeah. I'm not taking it in, you know? And and, and what I've said to my friends and family that are close to me, you know, like, Hey, if there's something going on, you know, about just tell me, you know, like you're on there, just tell me, you know, and so like the other day my wife sent me a text that one of our, what am I a guy that I've mentored and discipled 12 years ago, I just got engaged.

Pierce Drake:

And so like, she had to send me the screenshot of it, like I didn't, and then I called him, you know, so but it's been interesting to think about like, you know, what, I'm not taking him, but at the same time, there is a disconnect. And I have to understand that

Ryan Dunn:

As well. Yeah. W we talked with Brian's on a few weeks ago and some of the stuff that he talked about, particularly when you were saying how it's hard to be human right now in a spiritual kind of way. And that's because we are so now aware of everything that's going on in the world. And so the case may not even be that, you know, there's more injustice in the world than there has been in the past. It's just that we are aware of injustice happening everywhere, right? I mean, there there's no really no hidden coordinators in the world. And so we CA that's a lot to carry. That's a lot to process through and a lot to carry. Whereas in the old days, old days, quote unquote, they would say, you know, really, you were kind of aware of your family or your village, but not aware of everything happening across the world. And that's a lot to bear with us right now.

Pierce Drake:

It's interesting. I think if you look at the statistics of anxiety, depression, panic attacks with, you know, people that are 25 and younger, you know, it's so much higher than it's ever been in generations beforehand. I think a lot of that has to do with their, they have grown up with this always in front of them. And the psychological effects of that are either lead you to one or two places. And sometimes it leads you to both. It leads you either to depression, anxiety under holding all that darkness, or it just drains you of all the empathy that you have for a neighbor. And and neither, neither of those are good places to be. But the reality is they're survival places that your body is trying to get you just to survive. And so instead of demeaning it just realizing, Hey, that's probably what it is.

Ryan Dunn:

Well, you had wanted to talk about gatherings and tables within this time. Can you speak to why you wanted to bring up this topic? Yeah,

Pierce Drake:

I think well, I mean, joking, not jokingly like laughingly, whatever, you know, the reality is is that we, we just read the four gospels together in 30 days. That's usually three chapters a day. And so that's a quick read through the scripture. I mean, obviously it's basically a gospel of a week. And so when you read it that speed, certain things pop out that you, you know, don't realize their frequency, other places. And one of the things that popped out in the reading for me was just the reminder of how often Jesus was around a table and how he carried himself when he was around the table of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Those would have been the religious leaders of the day. He carried himself in one way. He was very like he had no problem calling them out on their stuff.

Pierce Drake:

What we would even say maybe today is judging others. I mean, Jesus didn't judge others. He clearly talks about it in Matthew seven and the gospel is like, do not judge. But he had no problem in love calling them out the religious leaders, but then around the tables of who Jesus would say, people that were far from him that far from God. And he has some labels there that he used in that day, in that age, there was none of that. It was all love and acceptance. And, and, and the reality is both were true in both places. He just handled themselves differently and, and, and still fully God fully Jesus there. And so I just love how Jesus shows up around tables and he never owned a table himself, you know at least none of the three years of his ministry, he didn't.

Pierce Drake:

And and so I got to thinking like, Hey, we're, we are, you know, I know this podcast we're recording. This is just a few days early, not many days early, it just a few days early. And, and this will release the day before Thanksgiving. And so like, a lot of us may, we're on our way in our car to a gathering with family or friends, but then we're entering, waiting at the airport or you're waiting at the airport. Right, right. Or we are or we're getting ready for it just to season in general, the next month and a half with Christmas and new years where we just are way more intentional at this time of year of gathering around, whether it be office parties or small group gatherings or your soccer team or whatever it is, your neighborhood gathering together around a table.

Pierce Drake:

And so the question then I began to wrestle with and think about, and have been thinking about last few days is, is how can I be like Jesus in those environments around those tables, it's really easy for me to walk into the party of a coworker and there'd be a hundred people there. And I only know 15 of them and only stay with the 15 that I know. But how do I branch out like Jesus did and get to know the people at the gathering. And, and I love one of my, one of our friends here and pastors on staff, Regina Girton, she, she has this, she signs all of her emails and she reminded us of this other day in a, in a sermon she preached, but she just said she sends all of her emails, love and light of Christ. And so, I mean, so that, that has really been stirring in me.

Pierce Drake:

How do we intern all of these gatherings, surrounded by tables which I love the idea of a table, brings everybody to the same level and break bread together. And we can reference the last supper here in a minute and, and really bring the love and light of Christ in there. Without being the guy that's like screaming on the side of the corner, like his thoughts on theology. Like, that's not what I'm talking about, but, but entering those spaces like Christ interim. So yeah. I'm excited to see what this season looks like in that capacity.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. It's striking in reading those stories, that there was really no instance in which we find Jesus kind of saying like this isn't my scene kind of walking in and reading the room and be like these aren't my people

Pierce Drake:

It's scandalous.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. Yeah. Oftentimes,

Pierce Drake:

Yeah. These scandals cause like people like Jesus would never go. And I think we've maybe talked about this off air on air, but it's like, Jesus would need Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk his house. Yes, he would. He would. And he would also be at whoever, whatever classification of person, he would also be in the tent village, eating on the floor under the railroad tracks with people as well. Like there's, you're right. I love that language. There's never a scene that Jesus is not a part of.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. Well, and that can relate to the, the way in which we congregate or build community around churches because you know, the church that one of the big detractors for the church is that people have a hard time getting along inside the church. Right. and, and certainly, you know, we're, we're seeing a witness of that here recently within the Methodist church. So so like as, as we get around these tables, like, I think we can remember that Jesus did not say like, oh, these aren't the people who I get along with, you know, the, these, aren't the people who think like me, even as they're gathering, like, you know, these are the people who I'm going to be with for these, these moments Jesus was able to kind of enter that space and maybe have enough sense of presence just to be present for that moment.

Pierce Drake:

Yeah. I mean, that's a, that's a lesson in Jesus, right there. Just being present with the people he's with, around those gaps

Ryan Dunn:

And not in a way that it can knowns it. I think a lot of time that we, when we, when we're making those kinds of judgments ourselves, like, we feel like, oh, we're giving, we're giving a sense of endorsement to this person, this different viewpoint or something like that when it doesn't always necessarily need to be the case or read as the case. Right. Like my presence alongside somebody else. Eh, in certain, I suppose in certain contexts, it can be read as, as an endorsement bytes. It's not always,

Pierce Drake:

Yeah. I mean, I, I think, I think let's be clear it isn't endorsement of the Mago day within them. Okay. All right. It is an endorsement of the fact that they are a beloved son or a beloved daughter of Jesus and the father and the spirit of God is working within their lives. So let's say like, you know, let's be real clear, like it isn't an endorsement of that. It might not be an endorsement of their political beliefs or an endorsement of how they carry themselves or their character. You know, because if that was the litmus test, then Jesus, does it stand beside me.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah.

Pierce Drake:

You know? And so you know, I think that's, I think we have to be slow to think because association means, means that, you know, and, and honestly that's why that, that misunderstanding of that misunderstanding of, of, of Jesus being with someone means that he fully endorsed everything about them while he was actually just fully loving them and welcoming the man is one of the main reasons he's killed. You know, we, we it's been said multiple times as seminary. So, you know, I don't know who to give the credit to. It's not me, you know, but it's like the theologian that says that Jesus was killed for who he ate with. You know, and the reality is, is, you know, Jesus was, was expanding both the understanding of what it, what, what acceptance means. And at the same time he was expanding what it meant to live a life of holiness, you know?

Pierce Drake:

So he says it says, do not murder, but I tell you, if you have, if you have anger in your heart, you've committed, you know, you've, you've murdered in your heart. So he's easily exposed. Like, oh, like you thought the line was here, it's actually here, but I'm actually welcoming everybody in a much lower level and calling them up. And so so yeah, I think it's a beautiful thing. And I think it's one of those things that this is a season in which we can really begin to tap into. How do we, how do we do that? Well, if I'm honest, I am you know, I'm a three on the 80 year grants. I like to be productive. And the older I have gotten, I'm 32. I'm not old. I get it. But I do think that's on your perspective.

Pierce Drake:

Yeah. But yeah, if you're 22, I'm old, you know but if you're 45, I'm not, you know, and so anyway, the, as a three, I used to think that man, to, to be accepted, I have to produce and I have to produce at a high level and, and here's how I can produce at a high level. And so a lot of that was being the whatever guy, the gathering, the hype guy, the show off the, you know, I had no self-awareness in my early twenties and my wife would say, I don't have a lot now, but but I think one of the things I've realized is that as I've gotten older, is that like, man, I'm actually like, I actually w I actually don't want to be at a party with more than five people, you know? Like I would rather have like a few people and gathered together and have deep conversation more so than like being important.

Pierce Drake:

So for me, it's like, I want to, like, I want to like fall into the wall when we walk into a big place. And now that, you know, and now that I have to press against like, Jesus, didn't just sit in the wall. Like he went toward people. And so and I love food. I'm going to be real. I love food. And and so I, I love this idea of this season that we're coming up to, to begin to practice these things, which gets to the point that you talked about earlier in the last supper. And, and I think that's what I want us to think about a lot as there's been a lot of practical things we've talked about. I think one of the things I want us to focus on is Jesus in Luke's gospel. The last supper shows up in multiple of the gospels, but in the last supper and Luke's gospel, he S this is where we get the language that you hear in church.

Pierce Drake:

Maybe that says do this in remembrance of me. And likewise after the separate, he took the company and he blessed it. And he, and and so the bread gets broken at the beginning of the meal. And the wine gets shared at the end of the meal. And, and we say, do this and remember some me, and we do that in church because we, we as United Methodist, believe it's a sacrament, meaning that something holy happens in this place, in this gathering. And so we don't believe like our brothers and sisters who I would call them our brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith and church, Christian faith, but Catholic kind of nomination or church. They believe it actually becomes the body and blood of Christ our friends in the Southern Baptist church and, and reform churches. They would say, Hey, this is just a representation.

Pierce Drake:

That's all this is. And we kind of, as you know, I met this whole, this middle ground that say, we don't believe the bread and juice actually become the body and blood of Christ, but we do believe it's holy. We do believe there is a mystery of faith within this component when we gather at the table. And, and I think that's one of the things suffering in the church right now, because of COVID, then we're taking care of people, safety. Like we haven't been able to take as much communion as normal. No matter how often you take it, we've all had to not take it as often. But on the other end, when Jesus has do this in remembrance of me, I think he, and we've talked about this. I know in the podcast, he is talking about the body and the he's talking about the bread and the cup, but he's also talking about the whole meal.

Pierce Drake:

Like, we can't take the context away from it and over theologic over, over take our theology out of it, right? Like he's also standing over a full meal. And so, so for that, to be the case, then all these gatherings that we have at this time a year, how do we make them, holy communion, gatherings, how do we put Jesus at the center of these gatherings and, and make them holy, whether we can talk about his name and at a, at a neighbor, or maybe we can't talk his name because of the company rules that we, that we work for. We can, we can make these moments. Holy yeah.

Ryan Dunn:

And the gospel of John that scene, that kind of last supper scene goes on for a long time. Like there, there is an element, there is the, the bread and wine introduced, but Jesus spends so much more time talking to his disciples about each other. Like this is where we get lines. Like there's no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. So in that witness, we get the idea that this holy meal isn't just about the bread and the wine, but it's about, you know, the whole gathering, not just what we consume, but how we are with one another. And I think that is profound for us to consider, as we gather in these kind of holiday spaces. Yeah, we love the food, but that's not fully what it's about. And how do we kind of translate that time and do something where we are able to celebrate the oneness of being in this gathering to celebrate the oneness of our, I guess, our shared humanity.

Ryan Dunn:

And maybe since we haven't been able to be in these gatherings for so long, like that's gonna, that's gonna come back to us in a sense like that, that part of our instinctual humanity is going to return to us. But I think it's going to be important for us to still kinda remind ourselves that this is special. Like when we get to gather this is, this is special that there's there's, there's a spirit that unites us, maybe a holy spirit. I don't know. We can go real deep there. But and, and I also want to be wary of the fact that maybe not all of us are returning to like these in person parties. So how do we, how do we kind of cultivate this sense across the means that are available to us through this holiday season, where we're not just totally missing out on kind of that human to human contact that is so meaningful,

Pierce Drake:

Right. I think, you know, the fact that you're listening to this is engaging in a way of leveraging technology. And I think that's been a, I think that's the beauty that we found in the last two and a half years we've or last year and a half we've been forced into. And, and I want to be really clear, like I'm an online pastor, meaning I, and another pastor on our team lead the online discipleship for our church. And we love it and we believe in it and we believe there's like theology around using it in the right way. It is not a substitute. It is not a con it is not the same comparison as being in person. So it's not, I don't, I don't think it is. I don't think, I think it's, I don't think it's super subpar to it, but I think if w if you, that are in your car, you're listening to the airport right now, to us.

Pierce Drake:

Here's the, here's the thing that we can't do. We can't hear from you in this moment. Now you can, we want you to join us in the comments. We want you to email us. We want you to, like, we do, we want you to engage with us, but I don't get to hear your story right now. And, and because I don't get to hear your story, I lack in my, in my growing in Christ and we're in-person does do that, but I think we do and can engage in, in whether it's a zoom call. It's a FaceTime, you know like I said, my, my daughter, my daughter does not my whole family's in Georgia. My wife's whole family is in Georgia, and we live in Nashville, Tennessee. My is two and a half years old. And she has been around her grandma's parents specifically, maybe six times in her life.

Pierce Drake:

But she knows them better than she knows our next door, neighbors, excuse me. She knows them better than she knows our next door neighbors, who she sees every other day, practically, because we're intentional about getting on FaceTime, talking with grandma and granddaddy, right? And so I think if we're not in these, if we're not, for whatever reason, maybe we're sick, maybe we're immune compromised, whatever, the reason, I don't think the reason matters specifically in the private quality of it. If for whatever reason, we can't be around people in this season in person face to face touch, scan, to touch skin. I think there are ways that we can be intentional about leveraging technology to build, to build some face-to-face gatherings, whether it's just one person and another person in a way that knows that we can be seen and we can see others. And the, the things that we're talking about can be put into practice just as well.

Ryan Dunn:

Hmm.

Pierce Drake:

I'll say this it's more difficult. Let's be real. It's more difficult. It's more difficult via technology than it may be sitting in a room for some, you know, and and so when I'm sitting on the couch at the, at the gathering at the Christmas party, I'm kind of forced into that conversation. If I'm at home, I'm not forced into it. I've got a little bit more falls on me to be intentional about building those relationships. And, and that's why we have the, I mean, for the person that has no one or believes they have no one, I mean, that's one of the reasons we have this, like, you know, rethink Facebook group, you know, it's like for a way for people to be together, to ride on the tour out of the wall to comment, to share life together and to encourage each other. So if you feel alone, I'm sorry. But know that we're here for you and we would love to be a part of your community no matter where you live.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah. That would make me happy. I I'm, my holiday schedule is not overly packed and that's a good thing. But yeah, that leaves me with some room to connect with people. So yeah, I would definitely love to be connecting with people through the Facebook group going wait. So yeah. This may be a frustrating episode for people who like closure and checklists, you know, like, Hey, give me the specific action steps, because I don't think like in the context of what we're doing right here we can say, okay, so here's how you're going to make your holiday parties more. Holy step one, step two, step three. You know, it may just be like how you're going to make your holiday parties take on a sense of holiness is just to be mindful of the, I guess, the spiritual of the gathering, you know that idea that when you're sharing together and these experiences with others, that there's something special going on there, this isn't in itself something that we need to check off in order to get done for the holiday season, you know, been there, done that, but this is something in which we're invited to possibly open up some relationship with people around us.

Ryan Dunn:

Yes,

Pierce Drake:

Yes. Yeah. It's not easy, but I think, you know, Jesus has this line to his disciples in the end of the, one of the gospels that says, Hey, you're going to be put on trial and you're going to be persecuted for the faith. I don't think we're being persecuted right now, but he said he is. But when you get in those moments, don't worry about what you're going to say. The holy spirit will lead you and guide you in what to say, trust the holy spirit. So I say to you, no matter if it's leveraging technology to build in-person community, or it is at the party or at the dinner table, wherever you find yourself, maybe you just go out to dinner by yourself and you sit at the bar and that's the that's, that's your environment. Don't overthink it. But listen to the holy spirit who speaks to his speaks to the, the sons and the daughters of God. And, and he will guide you. The holy spirit will guide you in these moments and it will be gentle. It's not a hard hand, it's gentle and it's tender. And and so listen to his guidance and then trust him be obedient and and see what fun holiness shows up.

Ryan Dunn:

Some of that holy mischief that we talk about in our group sometimes. So cool. All right. Well, Pierce safe travels to you. Weeks ahead. We'll be connecting with you soon and friend again, if you want to connect with us, the rethink church community group on Facebook is a great way, want to thank United Methodist communications for making this podcast possible for regains, who does our audio editing, and of course for you for listing. If you'd like to say thanks back to us, great way to do that is by listening to another episode. So click on down to the next one and Apple podcasts or where you are listening and and give it a whirl. We would appreciate that very much. We'll talk to you again in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, these.