Monday, May 22, 2017

Jesus' Table

David Fitch writes these helpful words regarding the role Jesus' table is intended to play in our broken world:
We are a mass of disconnected souls with too many tasks to do and too much stress to do them. Nonetheless, our world starves for presence. After work is over, after we arrive home on the train, we swarm to restaurants and bars just to share a beverage or a meal in hope of making contact. Whole train cars on the Chicago Metro commuter train are segregated for those who want to bring a beverage and share a conversation at the end of a long day. It's not much but it's something. People everywhere long to be known. Our culture bears the signs of people wanting to share life meaningfully with one another. The world longs for Eucharist.
In our exploration of Jesus' Table in Luke 5.27-39, we learned that one of the things that got Jesus in trouble with the religious authorities was his table habits. It wasn't only his preaching that led to Jesus' crucifixion, it was also his eating. More specifically, the cast of characters with whom he chose to eat. Tables, you see, tell stories. They tell the story of who's in and who's out - of who belongs with whom - and the basis of our mutual acceptance. Think for a moment about the cafeteria tables in high school. The jocks sit with the jocks, the cheerleaders with the cheerleaders, the FFA students with the FFA students, the preps with the preps, the gothic with the gothic, etc. Jesus' table tells quite a different story. "For Jesus the table was to be a place of fellowship and inclusion and acceptance" (Scot McKnight). According to Jesus, if you have recognized your ultimate need, forgiveness and restoration to God and others, and have turned to him to meet that need, then you belong to Jesus, to God, and to all who have likewise turned to Jesus. This means that Jesus doesn't require purity or certain earthly identity markers before he will share a meal with us. Rather, when we share a meal with Jesus, the meal has a mysterious way of creating purity within us, of shaping us into the image of what God created us to be.

Indeed, "we are a mass of disconnected souls," What evidence of disconnection do you see in your life? Are you feeling disconnected in your relationship with God. What human relationships fee disconnected? Jesus responds to disconnection by inviting us to a meal. Most often that meal is what we call communion - bread and wine shared by Christians after the Word of God has been proclaimed. If you sense a disconnect in your relationship with God, Jesus is inviting you to this sacred meal that he longs to share with you (Luke 22.14-16). If you feel a disconnect in relationships with others, Jesus is inviting you to share a meal with those persons so that his healing touch can restore connection to those relationships. At both tables Jesus is present to forgive, heal, and restore. What's more, it is at these tables we learn to sense where Jesus is present elsewhere in this world. Be encouraged to perceive the restoring presence of Jesus among this mass of disconnected souls.
The next time you walk down the street, take a good look at every face you pass and in your mind say, "Christ died for thee." That girl. That slob. That phony. That crook. That saint. That damned fool. “Christ died for thee.” Take and eat this in remembrance that “Christ died for thee” (Frederick Buechner)
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