If someone would have asked me when I was 25 what I thought the “must-have” piece of furniture was for a home, I would have responded, “my bed.” After long days of classes followed by longer days in offices working diligently to secure my place and space as a great employee and strong leader, my bed was my sanctuary.
I still think a great bed and good rest are important. We are reminded in scripture to rest, and entrepreneur E. Joseph Cossman shares, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”
Yes, we need rest. But there is another piece of furniture my 25-year old self would soon discover to be essential: a table.
So, what is the purpose of a table? Is it merely to hold dishes and drinks? Is it just four legs and a slab that’s often relegated as a catch-all for everything from laptops to laundry?
Oh no, it is so much more.
As a kid, the kitchen was the only truly safe place in our house. It was the place where parents didn’t argue as much, where dads didn’t store the liquor and moms didn’t cry and doors didn’t slam. It was the place where stories were told about grandmothers who could cook for a small army back in the day when families were big and took in wayfaring strangers. Amazing fragrances came from the kitchen, there was always something to sample on the stove, and the table was the place to gather and savor it all. The kitchen table was the place for homework in the afternoons and deep conversations served with sweet potato fried pies late at night. And the formal dining table welcomed preachers and prostitutes. All were welcome, none were excluded. There was a cup for everyone. The table was the place where folks felt welcomed and seen and heard and healed.
Having a safe place to gather is good for your soul. There’s comfort, there’s discovery, there’s story to be told. A loaf of bread with salt and olive oil, a chunk of cheese and a bit of fruit – that’s all that’s needed on a plate that’s offered with love. A table is a welcome sign in your home – for you and those who gather around you.
Jesus knew the importance of the table. He ate with strangers and friends, served the famous and the infamous, and shared some of His most personal and powerful stories over meals. He knew that gathering at a table had power to reveal and to heal.
So, why do you need a table? Here are three great reasons.
1. Your table is a place for conversation.
It is a “how was your day?” and a “what does tomorrow look like?” and a “let me tell you about…” It is a place to talk about the weather, and it is a place to talk about whether or not that weather is going to impact all the plans you’ve carefully made. The table is a place where dialogue happens.
2. Your table is a place for confession.
It is a “what is your greatest fear?” and “how will we walk through this?” and a “there is a better in this.” It is a place to walk through dreams and hopes and fears.
3. Your table is a place for communion.
The communion that Jesus shared with his disciples wasn’t part of a church service. It wasn’t formal, and it wasn’t preceded by a sermon or followed by a hymn. The bread He used wasn’t baked for the purpose of being memorialized, and the wine they drank was wine that would have been enjoyed anyway as part of the meal. They were celebrating Passover together with a feast that marked liberty and life. They had been through much together, strangers made God-crafted family. They were sharing stories when Jesus, the One at the center of it all, picked up a piece of bread and said it represented Him – from the grains created for purpose, thrashed, milled, and sifted, to the loaf shaped, refined by fire, and transformed into a gift of life. After they finished dinner, Jesus picked up a cup filled with wine. Again, He said, “This represents Me, my friends. As wine is the redemption of grapes that are crushed and poured out, so My life will be crushed and poured out for your life’s redemption.”
The bread and the wine were lifted up by hands made in the image and likeness of a meaningful God, a God who delights at the table. The disciples ate the bread and drank the wine, each one pondering the depth of the words, “Let’s do this together to remember why we exist.” Your table is that same place.
Communion means “common union,” and the gathering at the table is a great reminder of its importance. It is an “I love you” and an “we’re in this together” and a “how may I pray for you?” It is hands holding and eternity joining in to celebrate the awkward and frail and beautiful dance of this life we’re living.
The table is a divine reminder that we are here for each other.
We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together. ~Lucy Mack Smith