Summer book discussion: Invitations to Abundance
Note: I'm so grateful to Juliet for suggesting this book and hosting a summer discussion group around the dinner table! Read more below about this gracious invitation. Sign up here to attend, and pick up a copy of the book on Sunday or order online. - Amy
I received my first invitation one gray Tuesday morning in February 2020, after undergoing a procedure to help identify if there were any physical reasons why I couldn’t conceive. I sat on a chair looking out on New Jersey Avenue SE, watching people go about their daily lives while I had just been given a disappointing prognosis—one of my fallopian tubes might be blocked. Despondent, I flipped open my Book of Common Prayer and found the morning Psalm reading for the day. It was Psalm 78:1-39.
A couple of verses stuck out to me in particular: “They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out and torrents overflowed, can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” (Psalm 78:19-20)
I knew in my heart that I was angrily asking this question. What I didn’t realize until later, that this would be the first of many invitations God was extending to me in that hard and frustrating season. This verse kept coming up, almost as though it was being shouted at me from every possible source. At the time, it felt like God was throwing this question back in my face, showing my hardness of heart, an emphasis on whether or not God could–or would– do it. But looking back now, I see God’s tenderness in asking me to ask him, “Can you spread a table in this wilderness?” Can you, God, be my source of hope and provision? When you are facing something like infertility, hope feels both dangerous and elusive. It took about six more months before I could accept that invitation to ask.
When I did, I found Romans 15:13 come alive: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Psalm 78:19 is still a verse I enjoy wondering about these days, but I’ve added some more reading to my meditations on the concept of feasting. One of them, a book by a dear friend, Alicia Akins, is called Invitations to Abundance. It’s a gorgeously written book focused on 12 feasts that are mentioned in scripture. Here’s a quote from a review I wrote about it:
"Akins’ book comes back to this question again and again, asking us to imagine God providing feasts in the midst of our lack. When we let God’s feasts nourish us, we are fortified against life’s seasons of affliction and adversity.
'I don’t want to just believe that God’s big and great when it looks like he’s winning and then switch teams when it looks like he’s losing. And so I think being able to find him when it looks like he’s losing, when it looks like I’m losing, has become really important to me.'"
This summer, I’m extending an invitation to our church community, to wonder together about a God who reveals himself through feasts. We’ll gather around a table on four different Friday nights, experience a taste of “Shabbat”—or the Jewish sabbath—a weekly time of gathering and celebration. We’ll share potluck meals and discuss four different chapters in the book. Plus, the author herself, Alicia Akins, will join us for these dinners on June 24 and August 12!
Sign up here for one or all of these meals, and feel free to invite a friend: June 24, July 15, July 29, and August 12 at 7:30pm in Alexandria.
I hope you’ll join us as we wonder together how God will spread a table for us in this coming season.
~ Juliet Vedral