Monday, October 25, 2010

The Lord's Table

The other day, our "small group" met after a long hiatus from formal meetings during the summer. Many of us have been busy with travel, visiting out-of-state family, children's high school activities, college graduations, exchange student host family meetings. You get the idea.

So, we finally met on a Saturday night and had Pizza together. Usually, we have a more formal study in the living room. But somehow, this day we started our meeting around the kitchen table. We pulled up a few more chairs and began to read the devotional prepared by our small group leader and dear friend. Our devotional was a prayer by Henri Nouwen:
Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love—
unconditional, everlasting love.

As I thought about our gathering around the kitchen table, it occurred to me:
- a lot of love, forgiveness, and grace have kept us together at that table over the last few years
- we are struggling to make it in this economy....
- we have been disappointed with people and circumstances...
- we all want to honor God with our plans and our service and yet....
- our lives are being led in directions we would not have chosen for ourselves....
- we continue to look out for each other (job referrals, car repairs, house-sitting, prayers)...
- we have visited each other in hospitals and emergency rooms...
- we know if we were in trouble and had just one phone call, who we would call...

It was good to sit close around that table, look each other in the eye, and realize how much we love each other. The pizza may not have been "eucharist" in the technical, theological sense, but it was the bread we broke together.

While we are on that thought, why wouldn't the table we gathered around be the Lord's table? How would such a table where believers gather in His name, forgiven, in peace and unconditional acceptance not be the Lord's table? How is it that at times we allow ourselves to succumb to the dualism where we separate new life, forgiveness, and restored fellowship at the Lord's Table from the reality of life shared around any table?