Emmaus ministries, Journey to the Table
March 17th is an important day. It marks exactly two years that we have been working on a new program for ministry with young adults, which means it is also the two ear anniversary of when I started working at The Upper Room. It is also my birthday. And last but not least, it is the day that the first informational video will come out about Journey to the Table. This video will be the first in a series of informational and training videos and other material as part of the the launch of this new program. This series will finish with Journey to the Table #1 at The Upper Room headquarters in Nashville, TN July 8th – 10th, 2016. In preparation for this first Journey to the Table video on March 17th, I thought I’d share a few of the still captures from the first draft of the video.   1 I like to call this one ‘the news desk.’   2 A little dimmer lighting and this could be a music video.   3 There’s just no excuse for making that face. I’m sorry.   4 Here’s a good one. Except who blocked that fire extinguisher with a pillow?
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There is one more test still to come for Journey to the Table the weekend of March 4th through 6th. We are already making some changes to the program based on what we have learned from the tests that we have already run, and will be putting the finishing touches on those after the last test. Then comes the really exciting part: the part where we get to offer Journey to the Table more widely. Beginning on March 17th, there will be a series of videos, training, and information becoming available to find out more about how you can start Journey to the Table where you are. This series will continue until July 8th when the first JTT event begins in Nashville at The Upper Room headquarters. I hope that you will join us along this part of the journey as we launch this new program.
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Emmaus ministries, Journey to the Table
Merry-Christmas-Text-Design All through advent this year I’ve been thinking about what it means to look forward to something. I’ve watched candles burn, and counted days on the calendar, and made plans with friends and family,.. all waiting for something to come that I knew would eventually be here. Some of those conversations were more about the fact that a vacation was coming soon. But no other vacation makes me want to light candles to show how close it is. No other vacation makes me ask myself, “what would it mean if my actions showed how much I am anticipating what is about to happen?” There’s really only two things I can think that make me ask that type of question right now: Journey to the Table and Jesus. I’ve been planning for almost two years what it would like when JTT finally arrives. We’ll all get to see more of that soon. But I’ve also been exposed to this question of what life will look like because Jesus arrived for as long as I’ve been able to think. I’m not sure that thinking about that question more than I usually do has granted any great answers. I know that it’s made me more aware of just how grateful I am that he came. That great act of love, just coming to be present with us, is such a powerful role model for me. It’s a simple act, but also a meaningful one. It means none of us every have to be a lone. And it means I can show love to others just by being present, and proves that presence is enough. For my Christmas this ear, I’m going to see some people who are very close to me, and whom I want to show love. I hope you get the chance to show love to others also. Merry Christmas! He’s here!
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Emmaus ministries, Journey to the Table, Test Locations
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Journey to the Table has two great images built into it: Journey and Table.

This table was at Camp Casowasco in the Finger Lakes of central New York. It existed only during our Journey to the Table test with students from Syracuse University in September of 2015. Around this table, people from different groups and different faith backgrounds connected with one another – many for the first time. They had discussions, learned new things, enjoyed a beautiful camp, found new ways to connect with this table, and hoped to connect with each other more afterwards. This table started the weekend as a simple altar. Later, these posters were placed around it. Granted, the table was a convenient place to display these posters, created by the students participating in the weekend. The table itself was also changed by the presence of these posters, and of those who participated. It certainly gained more vibrant colors. By the end of the weekend, this same table received answers to two questions from each participant: What has this weekend meant to you? What are you going to do about it? Any experience can be changed by the people who are present. Think of your favorite movie, your favorite place to eat, or your favorite place in nature. How many different people have seen this with you? When different people were there, what new thoughts did they bring? What in their experience brought up something new for you as well? In many ways, God’s table never changes. But there are also ways in which we each change the table, at least for the others around it. It is our hope that everyone brings their full self to Journey to the Table. While the table is the same before we arrive, we each bring something to it and take something from it. We may have an impact on people around us while we are there, and we may be impacted by our presence. Journey to the Table is a place to come to that table with your full self, impact others and be impacted, and ultimately to go out an impact other people around other tables based on your experience.  
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Emmaus ministries, Journey to the Table, Process, Steering Team, Test Locations
thanksss Like so many others, I’m reminded today of so many people and things for which I am thankful. When I started working on this program almost two years ago, I understood how to design a process that could produce something helpful. What I didn’t understand is what that helpful thing could be, or how it would translate into real ministry with real people. That’s where dozens of people interceded. It started with a few new co-workers who gave so much faith and support that I felt infallible. Then 19 volunteers agreed to be part of a team and to trust the process I had outlined. They did the hard work of discussing countless issues and details about what this ministry would become. More colleagues stepped in to make it possible for me to find places to test what had yet to be written. Then people in ministry positions offered their work and influence to help test the program. I took a moment for a mental headcount of all those faces: 147. So far there have been 147 people that I’ve come face-to-face with in the process of designing and testing Journey to the Table that I didn’t know before I started. Each one of their involvement has been invaluable. That number doesn’t include all of my friends and family that have been personally supportive, nor the countless people that have prayed for each step of this process, or prepared meals, or shown up for many parts of this process that I didn’t see in-person. I’ll spare everyone of reading “Thank You” 147 times, but that would be an emphatic way to express my thoughts about all of these people. I hope this moment is a glimpse of what Journey to the Table will become. I hope it always involves more people than I could possibly thank. I hope those are the people who become most connected to this ministry. I hope that as it grows, every person involved has this moment when they realize just how many others support them the way that these 147 have supported me. Thank you.
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Emmaus ministries, Journey to the Table
We’ve all seen them, the beautiful images with short words of wisdom telling us “life is about the journey, not the destination.” Or the funny meme the make us wonder if Abraham Lincoln really said something like, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” There’s nothing new about the image of a journey. There’s nothing new about using a journey as a metaphor for faith. There’s certainly no lack of opinions about how we might live differently if we thought of our lives in that framework.12087792_594238515148_3635589892726582974_o

Why does Journey to the Table use such a common image?

The easy answer is because so many aspects of our program come from the story of two people walk on the road to a village called Emmaus (told in Luke’s gospel, chapter 24). From the beginning of that story we are told that two people are traveling together. We’ll let the image of table speak to our desire to consider our faith together with others in Journey to the Table. The image of the journey comments more on what the environment is like while being together with others. What will we talk about, how will we talk about these things, where will we go, why will we go there? For this journey, we discuss these things with each other. In many cases there is no single, defined answer. Should I take a new job offer? Should I move to a different location? Should I study in this field? How should I think about another person? Journey to the Table is not a place for someone to give an answer to these questions. It is a place and a space where we can live with these questions together and support each other on our journey. We hope it will allow people to come together around common questions, common hopes, common struggles, and common faith to journey together.
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