Monday, April 1, 2013

the table's message

A few weeks ago, I worshiped with the church in the village of Nacivare.  As we waited for everyone to gather, one of the church leaders from another village leaned over to me and pointed towards the front of the building.  The church building in Nacivare is the size of a large living room in the United States.  It is a mud brick building with a altar/table made of mud bricks up near the front.  This table was decorated with used beer and coke bottles holding picked flowers and in the center of the table were the plates and cups for communion.  My friend indicated the red plastic table cloth that covered the table advertising the Manica brand of beer with their slogan in bold letters, "Abraça o nosso sabor" - Embrace our flavor.   A number of people in this church have a problem with drinking and this friend chuckled at the irony.

The slogan captured my attention as well - What would it mean if the church truly embraced the flavor we find at the Lord's table?  What would that mean to a community of faith?

Years ago, I was blessed to perform my cousin Daonne’s wedding and an image from that day has stuck with me ever since.  After the bride and groom left, Rachel and I stayed after the reception with the rest of the family to talk and help clean up.  Some folded and put away chairs, others washed dishes, and someone was vacuuming the floor.  At one point during the confusion of the clean up, I glanced over and saw my Uncle Howard, the father-of-the-bride.  He had finished clearing off the table used to display the groom’s cake, and then he pulled off the tablecloth, revealing the table beneath – it was a Communion table, with the carved words: “Do this in Remembrance of Me."  This table, which was made for displaying the bread and the fruit of the vine on Sundays, had been used on a Saturday in the fellowship hall for the wedding reception.

Scripture uses this compelling image of a wedding celebration to describe the joining of Christ and his people (Eph. 5:32, Rev. 19).  During his final Passover meal with the disciples, Jesus shared the bread and wine with them and told them that he would not share this meal with them again until the coming of the kingdom (Luke 22:14-19).  When heaven is described as a wedding banquet, and the Lord Supper as a future feast, or a party we have something tangible to imagine.  So, what that final wedding feast will be like; will the communion meal be part of that banquet?  What will it be like for us to share the groom’s table, Jesus’ table, while we break the bread and drink the wine?

In watching a father-of-the-bride remove a groom’s cake and a tablecloth to reveal the communion table underneath, there was a glimpse of what that ultimate wedding celebration may be like - where, after the wedding feast, we look over to see our Father pulling the cover from the groom’s table to reveal the place for gathering and celebrating the groom’s meal.

When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we point each other toward that ultimate wedding celebration at the end of time where we will enjoy being fully present at table with the Lord.    

Embracing the flavor we find at the Lord's table today, means remembering that it is only a taste of what is to come.

Grace and Peace,

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