Table talk is common among Disciples. To say that communion is central to our identity would be an understatement of the obvious. By observing how we come around the table you can see who we are and who we want to be. Simply put, table reveals who we are. At our best, Elders preside at the table, symbolic of their role as spiritual leaders in the church. Deacons serve, symbolic of their role as servant leaders in the church. Everyone is welcome to partake, revealing the unity we seek in Christ.
Some churches extend the invitation to children, even before they are baptized. This says something about the way these congregations view children. The table reveals who we are.
Some churches have the same elders praying the same prayer every week. This says something about the life of these congregations. The table reveals who we are.
Some churches have clergy at the table and others won’t let a minister near it. This says something about the dynamics of these congregations. The table reveals who we are.
While much of our church rhetoric includes the table, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our casual conversation around the table. When people complain that worship is too long, we often point to how long it takes to serve communion. When we plan a Youth Sunday there is concern about how the kids serve, making sure they know the proper way to line up. Deacon and Elder training is often about where to line up and when to move. Unfortunately, much of our conversation on being church follows suit.
We talk about numbers and programs. We talk about what music will attract people to our buildings. We talk about what program will bring people to our church. We talk about how to structure committees to better be the church. We talk more about the institution of church than how to better live out our faith. We worry about numbers and structure more than passion and purpose. Again, the table reveals who we are.
For Disciples, if something new is going to emerge, it will probably come up at the table. Who are we breaking bread with? Who is inviting us to share a meal? Who are we serving with when we set a table?
When have you accepted hospitality from another? When have you reached out beyond your comfort zone? When have you set a table for friends, strangers, enemies?
The table reveals who we are. It can also remind us who we are called to be.