Originally featured on IF:Table (July 2016), modified for Neighbor's Table.
Summer’s here – a time for lingering days and beach vacations, outdoor movie nights and the sound of crickets in the distance. Summer brings a shift in the calendar, and the families in my neighborhood trade school mornings for afternoons in the swimming pool.
Sunlight is slow to hide behind the trees, and the heat of long days invites itself into the evenings in the community where I live in Dallas. In the backyard, dinner parties are accompanied by oscillating fans and jugs of iced tea, and mosquitos drop by as if the "All are Welcome Here" sign was just for them.
This week I gathered with friends around my Neighbor's Table and watched as many of us connected in new ways. The managing partner talked to the stylist, the grandmother laughed with the realtor, and the handyman was embraced by the teacher.
We savored with simplicity of pizza and salad with fresh veggies and laughed about the relentless summer heat as we kept our glasses full. Popsicles were the perfect way to enjoy dessert, and we shared banana cinnamon, watermelon agave, coconut lime, and strawberry (I mean, what is summer without popsicles).
As our meal was winding down and the summer glow on our faces was glistening by the candlelight on the table, a friend pushed back from the table and stood to his feet. He invited us to join him in a toast. With our eyes on the glass he raised high, he smiled and shared the words of blessing.
“To the Lord, for his loving kindness!"
"Here, here!" We raised our glasses in the air and outstretched our hands to meet those nearest. Down low, up high, smiling and expressing joy, our hearts clinked as one as we offered up our worship. Words of simple praise and thanksgiving were a reminder of how good our God has been to each of us. Our hearts burst with joy.
A friend across from me that night shared this was just what her heart needed. I whispered, "Me too, me too." We needed both a change of place and a change of pace. God gives fresh, new perspective when just a couple things shift. So look around you!
Gather your people in a new location and take advantage of the longer days of summer. Share a good meal and proclaim the Lord’s great love for us before we pass the plates and after we’ve enjoyed the last bite. Meet God in both the emptiness and the fullness of our hearts and bellies. His loving kindness is unmatched and His covenant of faithfulness unparalleled.
This summer, let’s celebrate a God who is full of goodness, kindness, devotion, faithfulness, mercy, and unchanging love. "Here, here!" to the Lord's loving kindness.