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It all starts at a table. Maybe it’s your dining room table, maybe it’s a cozy bistro table, maybe it’s a table at a corner booth at your favorite restaurant, maybe even a table at the front of your church sanctuary.
Good things happen at tables. Glasses clink together with cheers to happy things, dishes are passed around from person to person, food is shared, conversation flows. Flavors blend and meld as our stories do the same, fueling both our bodies and our hearts with richness and goodness.
Sitting down at a table to share a meal or a drink with someone doesn’t usually just happen on accident or by surprise. When you sit down to that table, you have opened up time in your day out of the busyness of life to be with someone. You’ve decided they were valuable to you, that the relationship was of worth, and that time was worth spending with them. Sitting across the table from them, sharing food, swapping stories, is opening your life and your heart to them.
There are so many conversations that are best had at a table, with a steaming cup of tea in hand or a big bowl of pasta sitting in front of you or a slice of gooey cake waiting to be devoured. Something about that object, that food, that drink in front of you breaks the ice a little bit. Hard conversations seem easier when there’s something to cut the tension, even something as simple as a meal. Easy conversations seem sweeter when something tangible is enjoyed at the same time.
I think food and drink become little (and delicious) vehicles of trust and truth, gentle wrecking balls breaking down our guards and our walls as they fill up all the cracks in our stomachs and souls.
People relax when there’s food involved, maybe even a little more so if red wine is involved... but people loosen up and breathe a little easier and let more of who they are show. It’s like these things on the table are inviting us to dig in, try new things, taste, savor, celebrate.
Even last night, at a young adults gathering at my church, I saw strangers and friends mingling and starting conversations with each other for the first time, laughing together and finding common ground. There were slices of pizza on paper plates, chocolate chip cookies and brownies crumbling on napkins, cups of coffee in hand. I imagined what that room would have looked like if everyone was gathered around empty tables, and I pictured fidgeting hands and wandering eyes and just general awkwardness. These things on the table draw us in, giving us something real to hold and engage with and consume as we connect with the people around the table, too.
Coming to the table is coming together, coming closer, coming deeper.
Coming to the communion table should be the same thing. Maybe your church passes communion around in trays or doesn't do communion at all, but imagine if there was a table at the front of the sanctuary, and that’s where the glass of wine and the loaf of bread was.
Coming to that table should be like coming together with Christ, coming closer, coming deeper. Not only do good things happen at that table, but that table is a tangible reminder that the very best thing happened. The wine and the bread are there because a sinless Savior died so our sinful souls are counted free.
The tiny cups of wine clink together as a sort of quiet cheers to a happy thing—the blood of a Redeemer shed so eternity with Him is in front of us, available to us. The bread is passed from person to person, fueling our body and so much more so our heart with the sweet richness and goodness.
When we come to the communion table, we aren’t coming by accident. We are coming because we have opened our lives and our hearts to a God who loves us deeply and perfectly. We’re coming because that relationship is of utmost value and we want to remember it, celebrate it and devote ourselves to it.
When we come to that table, our shame is washed away, our sins are forgiven, our broken hearts are stitched back together as we pour out all that we are out to the One who poured out His all first. We’ve been invited to dig in, try new things as redeemed children of God, taste and see that the Lord is good, savor, celebrate.
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At a meal with a friend, it’s expected that every man pays for themselves. It makes sense and seems easiest. If the friend foots the whole bill, it’s a surprise, an unexpected blessing, a meaningful gift. It usually comes with a “thank you!” and a “you didn’t have to do that!”
At this meal, this communion meal with this Friend who is Jesus, the bill we expected to pay for ourselves has been covered in full. He took it all, everything we owed, everything we had racked up, everything we spent, and covered it all. What a surprise that is! What a truly unexpected blessing, the best blessing of all. No gift has more meaning. That bill of ours was a big one—we were reckless, we were greedy, we wanted it all without thought of the cost. We knew when we saw all of our sins add up that this would be the death of us, that there was no way out now. But that total turned to zero and it all washed away. All that could follow is “Jesus, Savior, Abba, you didn’t have to do that. Not for me, not for all the things I’ve done.” All that our hearts can say is “thank you, thank you, thank you.” That gift is grace. Sweet, undeserved grace.
We can come to the table free and unashamed and celebrate now. We can come broken and scarred, battered and bruised, weeping or praising, crawling or running. We come and open our hearts and our lives, and we share the bread and the wine of a gracious, holy Savior, and we are filled both body and spirit with the reminder that we are redeemed.
It all starts at the table.
Rachel Dawson is a writer of blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, daily journal entries and doodles. She is the Communications Coordinator for UMFS by day, and in her free time, she blogs about her life and faith at www.racheladawson.com and as part of the Rethink Creative Group. She is always reading, whether it’s C.S. Lewis or Timothy Keller, Twitter, her study Bible, or vegan and gluten-free cookbooks. She wholeheartedly believes in having adventures, having passion, sending snail mail, and having complete faith in the Lord. Find her on Twitter here or check her out on Facebook.