The Table as a Place of Connection
In the fast-paced, tech-saturated, attention-deficit-disordered culture in which we live, we need to recover the art of a slow meal around a table with people we care about.
David the songwriter the shepherd boy who became a king reminders us that The Lord who shepherds has a ‘rod’ for protection a ‘staff’ to correction and a ‘table’ for connection:
You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies. You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace. Psalm 23.5
Tables are one of the most important places of human connection. We’re often most fully alive to life when sharing a meal and talking with others around a table. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that throughout the Bible God has a way of showing up at tables. In fact, it’s worth noting that at the center of the spiritual lives of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments, we find a table: the table of Passover and the table of Communion. New Testament scholar N. T. Wright captured something of this sentiment when he wrote:
“When Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.”
In the midst of a world that increasingly seems to have lost its way with regard to matters of both food and the soul, Christian spirituality has something important to say about the way that sharing tables nourishes us both physically, relationally and spiritually.
We need a recovery of the spiritual significance of what we eat, where we eat, and with whom we eat.
In Matthew’s account of the Last Supper, he writes, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” (Matt 26.26). The same pattern of language—blessing, breaking, and giving—also shows up in the accounts of Jesus’s miraculous feedings, as well as in the scene in which Jesus is recognized by the disciples with whom he had walked on the road to Emmaus.
In his book ‘Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places’, Eugene Peterson has observed that this pattern of being blessed, broken, and given is at the heart of the Christian story. He claims, “This is the shape of the Eucharist. This is the shape of the Gospel. This is the shape of the Christian life.”
I hope we can connect with Christ and each other this Easter around His table. I hope and pray we can use this Easter as an opportunity to invite people who wouldn’t normally or regularly connect with the Church with Christians or with Christ, to a worship service ‘Good Friday’ Easter Sunday’ and to a meal around a table with you and your family.