And the Table; 2nd Year Reflection from Abby Pratt
If you follow the lectionary text, you might have had this same reaction (Everydayimpastoring) when you went to textweek.com or opened your copy of the Revised Common Lectionary last week. In preparing for World Communion Sunday we were faced with a challenging selection of scripture, which included the suffering of Job, the creation of woman, the Pharisees questioning Jesus about divorce, and Jesus’ acceptance of children. While it is tempting to gloss over all the texts and focus only on the beautiful portrayal of the Kingdom of God in Jesus welcoming little children, I think an important image is formed within this entire collection of texts. This image was solidified in Jan Richardson’s powerful blessing entitled, “And the Table Will be Wide” that she wrote for World Communion Sunday and published on The Painted Prayer Book this past week.
And the Table Will Be Wide
And the table will be wide.
And the welcome will be wide.
And the arms will open wide to gather us in.
And our hearts will open wide to receive.
And we will come as children who trust there is enough.
And we will come unhindered and free.
And our aching will be met with bread.
And our sorrow will be met with wine.
And we will open our hands to the feast without shame.
And we will turn toward each other without fear.
And we will give up our appetite for despair.
And we will taste and know of delight.
And we will become bread for a hungering world.
And we will become drink for those who thirst.
And the blessed will become the blessing.
And everywhere will be the feast.
As we gather at the table we rejoice in sharing food with loved ones who we consider to be our “other half.” But the table is not just for lovers. It is wide enough for the Jobs in life who find themselves lost, in pain, and overcome with suffering. For those who have fallen out of love and have been abandoned by their spouses. We open wide our arms and let our hearts be broken. We welcome them with soft shoulders and warm embraces. At this table we also make room for children. There is not a “kids table” in the Kingdom of God. The table is a place for children to learn and grow and for adults to joyfully be reminded of the significance of child-like faith. But the table is not just for the innocent. It is wide enough for the Pharisees and spouses guilty of harm. At this table we humbly listen to one another, not judging, but seeking justice where there is wrongdoing, love where there is abandonment, and peace where there are boundaries of difference.
One of my favorite traditions at the Div School is Community Lunch. Every Tuesday we gather in the lower auditorium after chapel and share a meal together. Students, faculty, and staff fill their plates and gather around the tables together. In the past few weeks our chapel services have greatly influenced our table discussions. From listening to UCC Pastor, Julie Peeples, the phrase, “If you see something, say something” took on new meaning challenging us to courageously act out of faith. Third year Skyler Daniel asked us, “Who are you choosing to sit at the table with?” presenting a model of service rooted in relationships. And this past Tuesday, third year Patrick Campbell reminded us of the power and unity that is found in breaking bread together. It is at these tables that we are fed, filled with good food, love, and support. We leave the tables thankful for what we have been given but well aware of and deeply convicted with the knowledge that we are part of a greater world that is ever hungry and thirsty. It is our time to become the bread for the hungry and wine for the thirsty. In celebration of World Communion Sunday may our table, our welcome, our arms, and our hearts be wide enough for all.