This past Sunday, Josh Graves introduced some interesting ideas about what a/the table really means. It was interesting, eye-opening, and provoking. Josh has written a book about this subject, so he knows far more; and I’m likely to butcher his thoughts, so take them as my interpretation and not a paraphrase of what he said. Basically, what I pulled from it was that the main thing that Christ was talking about was feasting at the table and this is where the good stuff of religion lies. The rest of it you can take it or leave it, but here’s what’s important.
Halfway through this discussion, I was reminded of my senior year of college and the mission trip I took with a few other college students to New York State. We had church services on Sunday morning in the general gathering room with the members of the boys home and the staff with which we were helping. Worship wrapped up, and we had yet to take communion, and while I wasn’t exactly panicking, I was wondering when or if we would take it. Then as everyone was concluding their lunches, someone in charge stood up and spoke about the Lord’s table and communion with him and his family. At 22 years old, the idea that Jesus did not pass around crackers and grape juice (or hardly fermented wine, if you’re technical) should not have shocked me, but it did. I realized that I had never considered the possibility that “The Lord’s Table” wasn’t a 4 feet x 2 feet table with the words “Do this in remembrance of me” emblazoned on it used only once a week. Seriously. I can only chalk up this severe misconception to my own and yet another failing point of the denomination/congregation I was raised in. Jesus’ table, I’ve come to discover and accept that this was a happy place for a feast and a party, not a quite place for a remembrance, but a time to communicate and establish relationships with God, Christ, and family.
Some of my happiest times have been had over meals, coffee, or some other type of table related event; but also, some of my most miserable dragged out moments have also been had at a meal. It’s hard to have a meal with someone you don’t like. It takes a time commitment and usually requires conversation to happen. Near the end of Josh’s talk, he brought up the idea of breaking bread with enemies. I cringed inside at two things: the number of people I would not like to spend time eating a meal with AND the idea of having to spend at least 30-45 minutes minimum with them. Maybe that was Jesus’ point, though. Enemies are unnecessary and toxic, having a meal with someone forces you to face their humanity and what you have in common. Which will ultimately help you become a more positive, effective person.
What I’d like to change my perspective on though, is what it means to share a meal with someone. I’d like to change my attitude when I approach a meal from “you got to eat, it might as well be with friends” to the concept of eating together helps us connect to Christ, God, and each other on an entirely different level than just being present. At a table we embody everything that Christ brought to the table.