For years I have had “tables” on my mind. They are part of my story. I have only recently realized it. Many decades ago after my mother passed away I was able to purchase a dream table that lived in our family home. It was very long and sturdy with beautiful wooden planks and had a strong base that connected on the floor. I loved that it could seat many. I even had a large picture window installed next to it so that we could enjoy looking out to the garden when seated all around.
The story of that table is that the family that gathered around it became fractured; its heart was wounded. The table moved around, lost the sweet voices that once laughed and told their own stories around it. Eventually, the table was lost. I mourned the outcome (of everything, of everyone) and then told myself that it was a thing, I must not be attached to “things”.
My mother also purchased a special table. She took exceptional care of it. I remember polishing the wood for her every Saturday. It was an octagon. In those days that was very rare. The seats were low and comfortable. She enjoyed having discussions and guests for dinner. It was a center of study, information; a place where questing happened. I thought that she, and the table had all the answers until I was 15 or so and rebelled. Then I pushed away from the table and “sat” on my own for many years before returning. When I “came back”, there was a place for me. Everything seemed more proportional. Soon after I was on my own again, set to travel for many years on journeys that placed no value on physical tables.
Later in life when I desired to share the heart luxury of sitting around a table with friends and enjoying their company, I found that I longed for that large luxurious table that I once had in my former home. The lost one. Somehow, perhaps because I moved from place to place and kept my possessions ‘light’, or because of one circumstance or another- there was no table now to share with friends.
I really enjoy home. I love making it a peaceful and welcoming place. It delights me to fill it with what feels joyful. I like to experience God in my home. I pray there. I sense the His Pew vividly. There is a special place near a large eastern window where I sit, kneel and wonder. I gaze outward and inward there. We can all have that wherever we live.
When I have invited friends to my home I have no table. There is just a sweet little round serving table that seats two. You know that we have an enjoyable time! My story today is filled with joy and a pew near the window that sheds love into my home. There is an altar filled with thousands of prayers and the aroma of God everywhere.
However, in the imaginings of a self that still contains some deficiency (we all still only see ‘in part’…we are sojourners), that sees “this world” – I have purchased a long wooden table similar to the one that was lost and placed it in front of the long bright window. I see myself sitting there in the morning light reading, praying. In the afternoon and evening, I imagine that I am able to invite many friends over. They can sprawl around the long table and talk, dine and linger. That is the story in my dream.
Here, I smile. I invite you to enjoy the best part of the Story of the Table.
With the eyes of my soul and the longing of my heart, I am invited to God’s Table at every moment. Each time that I approach His Altar in prayer, with my heart when I am prompted with the words that say, “Father, I am reaching to you with praise and thanksgiving…”
But wonderously, once a month at church we gather longingly at the Table of The Beloved for Communion. I only made this “table” connection this Sunday after my Pastor said, “Would someone please write about The Table?”, meaning of course, other writers writing far more profoundly than what I am attempting here.
The Lord’s Supper which is also called “The Lord’s table” (1 Corinthians 10:21), “communion,” “cup of blessing” (1 Corinthians 10:16), and “breaking of bread” ( Acts 2:42 ). The purpose of taking part in it is to remember the person and work of Jesus: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:25). The Greek noun for the word remembrance is anamnesis [ajnavmnhsi”] which means to recollect. Many believe that this means that we are to bring the one being recalled into the here and now- into the present. From the viewpoint of Communion, we bring, before the Father of the one, the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ so that His power will be known and operative in us.
The remembrance uses the tangible elements of bread and wine. It is a personal experience that involves confession. In accepting communion, one proclaims belief and hope in Jesus Christ celebrating His Worth above all else. The experience is joyful because our hearts unite with The Lord.
The table that holds the bread and the wine is actually an altar. It is called the Table of the Showbread (Hebrew: לחם הפנים lechem haPānīm, literally: “Bread of the Presence”), in the King James Version: shewbread, in a biblical or Jewish context, refers to the cakes or loaves of bread which were always present on a specially dedicated table, in the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to God.
Since it is used to hold the offering, it becomes an altar. The altar is often on a higher elevation than the rest of the church. In Reformed and Anabaptist churches, a table often called a “Communion table”, serves an analogous function.
This is The Table that matters in my life. It is the one that I go to for Hope and affirmation. When I listen to the words that introduce Communion all of my heart says “YES”. I anticipate the bread and the wine. Part of me leaps towards Christ Jesus. I feel His Presence. I Remember. Remembering means I am overwhelmed with gratitude for His sacrifice for us. My heart turns into a melting bowl that receives more love than I or words can express. I am not alone in this.
I can feel a family that is vast and uncountable both here and beyond in His Kingdom. The division opens and all seems to be One. For those moments God the Father, Christ, and The Holy Spirit seem to open a Door to all hearts that enables us to be flooded by Love. We do Commune with His Kingdom and all that is contained in it. Such a brief Holy Glimpse. It is like seconds, and then as if with a breath, and a sigh- we are returned to mortal life. But Believing and by Faith, we are encouraged, strengthened and emboldened.
We have taken part in the offering at The Table.
I don’t need any other table in my life. And oh, what a glorious family to gather with! I feel so fortunate.
I never imagined that I would gain such a precious story. I think that I have found the only Table that will ever matter.
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. –1 Corinthians 11:24-26
© 2019 Linda Willows