27 November 2009
The Dinner Table
Over dinner once we were having a conversation about race relations—how far we've come in the U.S. and how far we still have to journey towards reconciliation and the Kingdom of God. My friend Shane said that the dinner table will be the place where we find common ground. If people had more meals together, he suggested, we would probably see a difference in race relations. I'd like to take that further and say that we'd see a difference in all boundaries that we've created to separate us—class, religion, politics. We don't feast together enough.
And this makes the Eucharist Table even more beautiful for me. Here, Christ invites us to the most unifying table of all. Everyone is welcomed. I could have been born into the Church or just walked into the door and been recently moved by the Gospel. I could have all the riches in the world or own nothing but the clothes on my back. I could be from the "wrong" side of the tracks. I could be brown or black or white. I could speak Chichewa or French or English or Māori. No matter who I am, I'm always invited.
And when I go to this table to feast on a simple meal of bread and wine, the feast is the same in Nashville, Tenn., as it is in Leeds, England. It's the same today for me as it was for Martin Luther King, Jr., for St. Catherine of Siena and for Peter the disciple. And more importantly, the calling is the same. We are invited into a Kingdom feast—a meal that both blots out my iniquities and calls me to another way of living. Our feast does not end there at the pew or altar in our church buildings. We are called to a bodacious way of life that refuses to be content in the boxes created by a love-ignorant society. We're called into a new covenant. And that new way of life leads me to break bread in many different places with people of various skin tones, beliefs, sexualities and economies.
What a bold feast the Lord created for us—a feast that can truly create a new reality.
May we feast with Christ and Christ's people today and everyday. May we intentionally go beyond our places of comfort to find ourselves at Christ's holy dinner table.
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." -Luke 22:19-20
And I think the true beauty comes when we step outside the symbol. Instead of merely taking part in a two-century-old tradition, let's also share food and talk about our experiences of God with the people that society tells us we should be staying clear of. Business people and homeless veterans, retirees and teenagers, Pacers fans and Pistons fans, Iraqis and Americans: let's all share a table together . . . Let the wafer and the juice be a reminder. -Caleb Mechem in New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community