Worship at the Table
Do you like to host? If so, who is it that you love to have around your table? Or do you prefer to be hosted? If so, whose table do you love to sit at?
For me, it was a group of dear friends who we would gather once or twice a year while we lived in the large parsonage in Catskill, NY. We had a big dining room. So these dear friends who had been with us in difficult and other formative times would gather in our home. We couldn’t have been more honored. The model for us was the several years of Easter, Thanksgiving and SinterKlaas meals at the home of the Fiets. Thom Fiet was our pastor, my mentor, and his family became our close friends. We loved eating at their table; loved the fellowship of their community of friends.
There is something about a community around a table eating together. All these meals I speak of were always potluck of one degree or another; a representation of the people, the personalities, their traditions and ethnicity. Meals are a place of conversation. Of intimacy, listening to each other chew, and watching each other drop food in our laps. It is a setting where old issues must either be settled, or they will linger in the air like a pronounced silence.
As we near Holy Week this month, we will celebrate such a meal on Maundy Thursday (March 24th). We will gather with the people of First Plymouth. We will gather around tables and remember when Jesus gathered with his friends around a table. This is how the early church remembered Jesus. For the early church, the Agape, or the Love Feast, was the way early Christians worshipped; the meal was worship, and worship was a meal. Only later did the two become separated into worship, of which a communion service was a part.
They would gather, as we will gather. They ate together, and they remembered, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.” The witness of Christ carried on as Christians would gather together around the intimacy of the table, listening to each other chew, serving one another, being reconciled to each other around the closeness of the table, remembering the Christ – being a community of memory and love and forgiveness.
Come to the table with us on March 24th. Let us consider together what it means to be a community in the memory of Christ – that we may be a community of friends, of love and forgiveness; the kind that others would love to be invited into.
Grace and Peace,