In my house the dining room table is both my favorite piece of furniture and my greatest domestic irritation. This is where we eat breakfasts and dinners as a family. But it also where papers are piled and lunch boxes are dropped. This is where my 5-year-old is learning to write and my 2-year-old is learning to sit in a chair to eat. This is where my husband and I grade assignments and sort through mail. Macaroni and glitter and laptops. Clutter and meals and talk. At our table life, unfolds.
As Christians we might also think of another table— a table where we break bread and engage in communion. In communion, those who are otherwise strangers will take from the same piece of bread, drink from tiny plastic cups that sit alongside each other. In all of our differences, at the communion table we are the same: broken but made whole; sinners but made clean. Isaiah 25:6 describes it as “a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine.”
In communion, often we are reminded that Jesus dined with Judas even after Judas had betrayed Jesus. The table is often where Jesus intersected with the best and worst of humanity. Jesus dined with people who sat on the fringe of religion and society: women, tax collectors, the poor. He reclined at tables and shared food with people ignored by religion and government and wealth. And when the temple was defiled by money changers, Jesus flipped those tables (Matthew 21:12). Tables.
Now we find ourselves at the table. Who will join us?
In Acts 11, God reveals to Peter that Jesus’ love extended far beyond the Jewish people. The good news was good for the Jews and Gentiles. Simple and revolutionary.
In Acts 11:18-21we read, “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life. Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyrpus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of the, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
Social and religious boundaries were, and are, no match for grace. The table is prepared and endless. We are all welcome to the table.
So, If you are poor, we can’t promise that you will be rich but we will show you the richness of God’s love.
If you are broken, we wrap our arms around you and help hold you together with the redemption found in Christ.
If you are a person who feels lost, you are loved and we sit beside you at the table.
If you have left religion but still feel a longing for God you are loved and we sit beside you at the table.
If you are young, or old, or middle-aged you are loved and we sit beside you at the table.
If you are unsure about your next paycheck, your next job or your next meal, you are loved and we sit beside you at the table.
God loves you. You are welcome to the table.
Elizabeth Smith - Culver Palms Church of Christ, Los Angeles, CA