Welcome to the table.
There are some incredible things that happen around a table.
It was at a table that I first tasted my grandmother’s blackberry cobbler! Anyone else like cobblers and pies, maybe a little too much?
Around the table is where my family and I enjoy some of our most meaningful times. Everyone is in one place, and things just seem to slow down if just for a moment so that we can catch up, so that we can look at each other’s faces and smile and laugh and hear each other’s struggles and feel connected.
I’m no student of history, but it is my understanding that some of the most influential decisions have been made around a table. War plans drawn, treaties signed, nation-shaping deals made.
One of the joys of my life is being able to sit around a table on a weekly basis with men who God is leading out of the darkness of addiction. I will never get tired of watching a man step out in faith and courage in telling his story, confessing something that he’s never confessed to anyone in the past. Perhaps my favorite part is watching men around that same table nod their heads in affirmation – “Yeah, me too.” The power of shame broken by a confession, a listening ear, and a prayer.
In a small room in Jerusalem several hundred years ago, a teacher name Jesus gathered with his students around a table (Matthew 26). They were celebrating Passover, but this was unlike any Passover meal that ever was or would ever be again. Like he would do so many times, Jesus reframed this ritual, fulfilling its meaning and orchestrating it so that after he was gone anyone could take part. ANYONE (Insert here any political affiliation, race, lifestyle, sin struggle, etc; the only pre-requisite I can see is belief that Jesus is who he says he is.)
It is what this gathering represents – a symbol of that which would solidify our standing with the one who created us – that gives all of these other table-encounters meaning.
I don’t know what your holidays look like. Maybe Covid has derailed any in-person plans. Maybe you’re gathering, taking precautions or not taking precautions, surrounded by the people who mean the most to you (and others who come as part of the package :)). Maybe this year is no different than others, and you don’t have many people with whom you can gather, whether because of death or distance or broken relationships.
Whatever your situation, please know that you have a place at the table. When Jesus reframed the Passover, when he said to “Remember”, it was not a plea to memorialize a beloved teacher, it was a call to know on a regular basis that we are welcome at his table, a table that is still set in a metaphorical sense (i.e. we are always invited to draw near to and know the living Jesus), but also a physical table which He is preparing now (i.e. we will have a chance to eat with Him in the coming new kingdom, one in which Covid and unemployment and divorce and abuse and addiction and a million other things we despise will not be welcome.)
I’m so thankful to have discovered this invitation in my life. And I’m thankful for you. If you’d like to know more about who Jesus is, and what I have seen him do in my life, please let me know, either in the comments or through the email contact on my blog.
And if you’d like to share what you’ve experienced at Jesus’s table, tell us that too!
2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Table”
Phil, this is an amazing piece. I love the picture of the table. I immediately Quite frankly, thought of the banquet table, with Jesus at the head. I am imagining face after face after face of strangers or of people whom we had in some way or another contact. Maybe we had part in the plan of them now sitting there. There will be faces of friends, family, people who have gone before and saints of the past. I am super excited … and will look you up, my friend … can you just imagine?
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It is hard to imagine! Good to know we’ll have an eternity to catch up with all of those people. Happy Thanksgiving!
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