I chose the commercial "Eat Together." In this commercial, the young lady is acutely aware of her surroundings; we aren't sure if this has been a recent awakening, or if she has reached her threshold of annoyance. Watching her neighbors pay no attention to her or anyone else as they separate and go their ways, she walks into her apartment, where another female greets her with silence.
She is angry, confused, tired, annoyed, but determined. As the scene transitions from her disapproval, we see her, and her companion walks into the hallway to set the scene for the next act. They are setting the table for the next round of neighbors to come home, and they are going to create some new, something that is radical. The residents are blind-sided. The residents inside their dwellings are oblivious, while the residents coming off the elevator are caught off guard.
I am drawn to the story of Jesus and the night before his betrayal. It moves me because Jesus was going to do something that no one would see coming. We see many emotions from Jesus, but the one that resonates that loudest with me is determination.
His determination of radical hospitality opens the door and sets the table at the feet of the disciples. This commercial moved me to think about the people who will be at our table this week as we celebrate a great feast, a feast that is full of hospitality. It is a meal that brings us together, a place where we sit around the table and catch up on stories and laugh at the silly dad jokes. It also moved me to think of the people who aren’t at the table. The empty chair makes me think about the loved ones who have died or the broken relationships that are so fractured that being with one another is impossible.
Jesus didn't break the bread and share the wine in the temple; he sat in the loft of an ordinary building and proceeded to do something extraordinary. There is a slow build-up as the disciples’ eyes see Jesus walking around the room and begins to transition his posture to that of a servant. Jesus is abundantly sharing of himself, pouring himself out as a gift for the world. Everyone in that room was transformed that night, and there was no going back because God was on the move.
In these moments of transformation, our relationships change. In this commercial, the table was set; the invitation was an “open invitation” where everyone was welcome. The host was going to share radical hospitality in a narrow hallway that became wide enough for everyone to feel welcome. Curiosity draws the neighbors to the feast, the generosity of the community sustained their fellowship, and as the flock was well attended, the child went looking for the missing. The table became the altar, and there was a fulfillment in serving one another, breaking bread and seeing each other for who they indeed are, our neighbors.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, think about the empty chair and the person or people who are missing from the table. We pay tribute and give thanks to the saints who witnessed and wore their faith as a testimony to the world. Think about the relationships that might be fractured and need mending, what is missing and what might you need to help reconcile the brokenness of the relationship. Jesus’ invitation is extravagant, and open, and real, a beautiful gift that is full of determination and given with an abundance of love.
A few years ago, I learned of the Wellness Wheel from the ELCA. I tried to narrow that down into three categories that I could create mindfulness around: reading, writing, exercise. My goal was to incorporate all three of these practices into my day. I wanted to make it attainable, so I put broke it up into bites size pieces of time: 30 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of writing. We get plenty of reading and writing for seminary classes and such, which can take away from the exercise. Just on the opposite side of this, it can be easy to slip out of practice with reading and writing when we are on breaks from seminary work.
Another mindfulness that I have tried to keep incorporated into my daily thoughts; who is my accountability partner? This was a question posed to me by my spiritual director before I left to go on internship. Having a partner at home meant I had a built-in default for accountability. Leaving that familiar place of accountability meant I was going to have to be mindful of my time and my goals.
These two topics, daily wellness, and accountability have become a foundation for me. I was a traveling sales rep, which meant I lived on the road three to five days a week. There were pros and cons to this type of work, which is for a different conversation. Internship helped me realize how much I missed working with people. Reflecting on my past career, I didn't see how many ministries I was surrounded with until I was out of that context.
Spending time doing a daily examine and contemplative prayer has helped me appreciate where that community comes from. A community for me is like swimming with a school of fish in a variety of waters. “I AM” is the love of God "Poured Out" into humanity, and the bodies that surround the cross are all the saints who have gone before us, witnessing to the love and grace poured into the world. These souls that are circling the cross are holding onto one another, surrounding one another, by embracing one another through the love that has been poured out through the “gifts” given to the entire body of creation. These gifts work for the greater good that is God’s creation, made in each person, to share with one another.
Accountability partners are community partners who share in their life experiences, along with their love and displeasures alike in the world. As I look at these pictures, I see a variety of ways community has been formed around me like a school of fish. I sense God’s creative work in more ways today as I have started looking for those creative moments being made. I chose these pieces to represent my photos because these were all gifts given to me, minus the rock that I made. The presence of these gifts fills me with the presence of the people who are in the school of fish swimming together, or the souls of the cross-holding onto one another while circling the place where we find everlasting life. Maybe these pictures are waiting for a bigger story to be told?
Hi there! My name is Chad Rademacher. I currently live in Ankeny, Iowa, with my wife Sara, our two teenage children (Lillie and Ethan), and our two cats (Boo and Penelope). I recently returned home to my family after moving away for a yearlong internship in LaCrosse, WI. I am currently a full-time student at Luther Seminary in my last semester of studies. I am working on completing my MDiv (Master of Divinity) with hopeful anticipations of answering a call to serve as a parish pastor.
I have passions for talking about the church and exploring how our life and our faith intersect. We find God in lots of creative ways; conversations are a great place to start. My hopes are we will have an opportunity to connect in some fashion and grow in our experiences together.