Book review: The Table I Long For

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The Table I Long For, written by Shawn Brace.

The Table I Long For: Learning to Participate in the Mission and Family of God

Shawn Brace

Shawn Brace was restless in his ministry, his church and even some aspects of his faith. Having spent years as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the north-eastern United States, he explored options for relocation, further study and church-planting, but nothing was seeming to work out. The Table I Long For is his story of re-finding his passion for ministry, re-founding his local church, revitalising his faith and finally even enrolling in an unexpected opportunity for further education.

Presented as a personal story, The Table I Long For has a narrative momentum that carries the reader through the theological reflections about the nature of the church and mission in our communities today. And this is a key focus of Pastor Brace’s progression, intentionally moving from maintaining a church to engaging with his community, moving from programs to people. This leads to inevitable challenges when seeking to interact meaningfully with people who do not have the same lifestyle habits, faith and practices, and we share in the experiences of wrestling with these questions with Shawn and his family.

The Table I Long For draws its title from a poem-like reading that affirms the goodness of sharing our lives, eating, praying and serving together as a model of church. But this is also a personal memoir, including sharing some of Pastor Brace’s experience of undertaking a 12-step program for greater emotional health. This level of honest self-reflection and openness to personal growth is refreshing and serves as an example of what it means to take responsibility for our wellbeing as a foundation for greater service to God and the people around us.

Touching on many of the urgent challenges for the church and its mission in an increasingly secular culture, The Table I Long For brings together a variety of sources of inspiration and some gentle critiques of our traditional approaches to church and evangelism. It also offers questions for addressing some of these same issues in our own churches and communities. By necessity, it is an unfinished story and not all the questions are resolved, but our attention is directed again to Jesus and the mission He has given each of us to love people, serve our communities and share the hope He has given us. Along the way, this journey will likely also change and renew your experience of faith and church.

 The Table I Long For and other books by Shawn Brace are available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.