Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Longest Table

Matthew 26:20 says, "When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve."

The table Jesus and his disciples used in the upper room was probably quite low, u-shaped, and they reclined on cushions. Through the years you can imagine how many different kinds of tables have been used. Many are like ours -- plain, simple, just large enough to do the job and with "In Remembrance of Me" on the front to tell us that this table is different.

Curious about table styles, I looked on the Internet and found a wide variety. One that caught my attention because it was designed by a famous Scottish architect, Rennie Macintosh, whose work we saw while in Glasgow, is in a Church of Scotland he designed. It is of moderate size, somewhat plain, with a rather stark but beautiful simplicity and easily identified as his design by its distinctive lines.

On the other hand, I have had communion in the ruins of ancient Corinth and in mountain youth camps where only what nature provided, a rock, a stump, even the ground, served as our table.

Our son and family attend a church in Spokane that has a unique table. It is rather long because there is indented across the entire front of the table a carving of the last supper. It is one of the longest tables I have seen.

Lee Magness points out how appropriate a long table is. He begins by describing his grandmother's Christmas dinner table. He says, "It stretched through the dining room to the living room of her old farmhouse. It was so long there was a place for all her children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was so long that there was room for folks far from home -- Ireland, Germany, even Tennessee....That table was so long that it was never full until family members who sat there in years gone by were brought back by a fond remembrance or a hilarious memory of Christmases past. It was Christmas at grandmother's house, and it was the longest table I had ever seen." Then he adds, "But I came to know different, or better. The Communion table is the longest table in the world. And I know just how far it stretches" (Lee Magness, Christian Standard, June 10, 2007).

Yes, we know just how long this table is. It stretches from here to the poor in Calcutta's slums, to the affluent in Anglican Cathedrals, and to the weary warriors in Iraq. It has room for the peasant farmer of Brazil, the beaded Maasai woman of Kenya, the immigrant laborer from South America, and the socialite from New York. There is always room for more at this table, and all of our relations in Christ are welcome. It is the longest table in the world.

It certainly has room for us and Jesus invites us to come, to eat this broken bread, his body given for us; to drink this cup, his blood shed for us. Come to the Thanksgiving Table, the longest table in the world.

1 comment:

Knox said...

I know that table in Spokane well. Not only was it used in my first ever communion, but it was also the table on which my friends and I accidentally broke the finger off of one of the disciples hands (Peter?) while playing when I was in 4th grade. (it has since been restored)

Hope you and Grandma are doing well.