Take and Eat, Beloved : The Sacredness of The Table
When we first met Ashley+Aaron in Columbus, Ohio, they lived just up the hill from us in a darling little dark green craftsman house that looked especially picturesque in the snow. I was always impressed at how much space they were able to make with their narrow galley kitchen and smaller than average family room. Instead of the usual couch and chairs they opted to fill the room with a long and inviting table. Community was their desire and every inch of their house encouraged it. Food is one of their greatest love languages and their table was often full (of food and people).
In the Christian faith the table is not only a place for community and fellowship, for physical nourishment and enjoyment of the land's produce, but a much larger symbol of grace. Every week at the end of the sermon we as a church body are invited to a table. It is a ritual, a reminder, a sacrament. Something we partake in over and over because it's that important -- to not only bring to mind but also to touch and taste, the gift of Christ. During the Last Supper Christ holds up the bread and the wine and says "take, eat. This is my body, my blood, which I have given to you. Do this in remembrance of me."
I love that one of Christ's last interactions on earth was around a table. So much of his ministry included food. The feeding of the 5,000, eating together with prostitutes and tax collectors (the notoriously "sinful and outcast"), turning water into wine at the wedding feast. He spoke using images we could understand and around the dinner table which welcomes all to an even playing ground. He understood meeting the physical needs as well as the spiritual. No matter our background or beliefs, we all have to eat. Do this in remembrance of me.
And this is my favorite part of each Sunday. A rag-taggled group of people, gathered every week not because we have earned this or deserve this, but because we are broken and acknowledge our need for Christ. Because we find community and family within those walls. Because the hands and feet of those in front and behind us as we wait our turn to rip the bread and drink the wine, have been the hands and feet of Christ, bringing us a hot meal when we miscarried, watching our little one while we meet with our therapist, holding our newborn baby so we can nap for just twenty minutes, offering a shoulder and their own tears when we need to question or doubt or weep. Every Sunday, two long lines of broken people, walking together as one toward this table that offers a tangible reminder of the grace that is the gift of God in the flesh. The table that says you are welcome here. It looks different all around the globe. Some tear and dunk, some kneel and sip, some stay seated and pass the bread and wine but it is a meal and it is eaten together. Communion. Take, eat, Beloved.
Every Sunday we partake in this sacrament, but the sacredness of the table is not restricted to the weekend. We believe any gathering around any size table is an invitation to the sacred. It's a place where bodies are nourished, souls are encouraged and everyone is welcome.