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Hispanic Heritage Month: My Abuela’s Mesa

October 17, 2020 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Acts 2:46 (NASB) 

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.

Focus

My Abuela’s Mesa was a table of leadership where she led with generosity. In this seemingly utopian community in Acts, I see God gathering a new familia around tables where everyone had bread. This was a Spirit-spoken story where the Spirit is the Story-Maker and the people are the Story-Tellers. This is a boundary-breaking God bringing together those who otherwise would not have eaten together before. It was simple work. It was a scandalous table. It was work to set the table and share the table. This is a work of the Spirit to sit at Spirit-filled Mesas where the black bean soup is the aroma of Christ.

Devotion 

Three thousand people were pierced to the heart after listening to Peter’s message about Jesus. What must we do? was the question they posed. After a wave of repentance, forgiveness, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, they began to redraw the lines of their community. They did the most ordinary and mundane of things: they ate together.

My Abuela (grandmother) was my first theologian. She was a pillar in our Nicaraguan church and spiritual mother to children, grandchildren, and other people’s children, young and old. One thing she did well was cook black bean soup. At my abuela’s mesa (table) she labored over the soup prep and served it with love. Feeding bodies and feeding souls was both theological and social work for her. She fed her family and she fed people in times of crises after earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, or times of food insecurity. It was her work and it was her witness. She was not financially rich by any means, but her cooking was driven by an inner communal ethic to share much like I see in this communal story in Acts.

You never knew who was going to show up at our table, but often more guests arrived than who we were expecting. In our Nicaraguan consciousness, we have a way of life where you don’t turn guests away at the dinner hour. If there was not enough food, my Abuela simply whispered: “Echale más agua a la sopa” (add more water to the soup) to make it multiply!

This was a leadership lesson from my Abuela’s Mesa. I often heard her say this if she was feeding someone in need who knocked on our door begging for food: “Donde comen 2, comen 3”: where 2 people eat, 3 people can eat. It was a modern miracle like the fish and the loaves that lived in my abuela’s mesa. Her mesa was generous, filling, full, joyful, sacrificial sharing of her time and resources, however abundant or scarce. Food was a love language and food was a sign and wonder of God’s Spirit.

In this seemingly utopian community in Acts, I see God gathering a new familia around tables where everyone had bread and people belonged. This was a Spirit-spoken story where the Spirit is the Story-Maker and the people are the Story-Tellers. This is a boundary-breaking God bringing together those who otherwise would not have eaten together before. It was simple work. It was a scandalous table. It was work to set the table and share the table. This is a work of the Spirit to sit at Spirit-filled Mesas where the black bean soup is the aroma of Christ.

Reflect

What is your favorite meal and what memory do you have associated with it?

Tell that story.

Act

Invite someone to eat that you never have eaten with before (safely, socially distanced!). Ask them what their favorite childhood meal was and cook it for them. Share the table. Listen to their stories. 

Pray

God of the tables, the mystery of Christ is that the presence of Christ is at the Lord’s table—and so it is at our food tables if our eyes are open to see you. As you promise us your presence, may we have eyes to see your presence through the person eating across from us at our work tables or home tables. May our faith increase by the food that we eat together with others. May we be present to you, oh God, and may we be present to others at our unhurried and undistracted tables. May others be seen and known by you in how we are present to them. May we sit at tables to feed our bodies and feed our souls, and in so doing, may we see you in our common humanity. Amen.


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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Economics of Radical Generosity (Acts 2:45; 4:34-35)


3 thoughts on “Hispanic Heritage Month: My Abuela’s Mesa

  1. Kj says:

    What a wonderful story of an amazing heritage. I loved it. May I ask that we avoid giving the nod to this pandemic hysteria by saying things like “safely, socially distanced”. This is not something we should continue in our ministry to others. It is fear mongering and we as the church need to stop so that perhaps others will. Thank you for your ministry.

  2. Carol O'Keefe says:

    I love these stories of Ines’s family. Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom.

  3. Mary says:

    Story so connecting, loving, “breaking boundaries “. Thanks for share! God hasn’t forgot Nicaragua either, see miracleair.org
    Prepping over my isolated (physically) head

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