Gospel Table

November 13, 2011

Welcome Table

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table

Yes, I’m gonna sit at the welcome table

One of these days, hallelujah

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table

Gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days!

When our family gathers we always seem to end up sitting together at the table; probably yours too.

So, too, worshipping communities. Today we will end up at tables eating spaghetti. But more than the food, we will talk, laugh, visit, fellowship and catch up with the lives of each other.

When we have an annual meeting for the church, we first gather at table. When we mark an anniversary, when we welcome a new pastor, when we embark on a common effort such as a building project, when we gather after a funeral, at all of these moments we gather as a community around a table.

When we mark high holy days we gather at the Lord’s Table for communion – Christmas, Holy Thursday, All Saints Day-Totenfest. These are formal liturgical events, but they too are rooted in the image of a meal.

These meals are not only concrete events at which obtain nourishment; physical, social, and spiritual, but they are events symbolic of our identity as the people of God. They evoke memories of previous occasions and meals, and they pre-figure the culmination of our life with God.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. O what a foretaste of glory divine!

The scripture is filled with accounts of meals.

  • · The Exodus begins with a hurried meal.
  • · Psalm 23 reads: “He (the shepherd) prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
  • · Song of Songs reads; “He calls me to his banqueting table, his banner over me is love.
  • · Jesus uses parables that compare the Kingdom of God to a man giving a banquet.
  • · Jesus feeds 5000
  • · Jesus’ has a Last Supper with the disciples.
  • · The post Easter disciples meet the Risen Christ and know him in the breaking of bread.
  • · The Book of Revelation anticipates the culmination of history in a great banquet with Christ on the throne as host. (“And therefore with angels and archangels and all the heavenly host, we praise your name saying, “Holy, holy, holy Lord…”)

As we move toward the heavenly banquet that the scripture foretells we are called to fashion our community of faith in ways that emulate that which is to come.

  • · With an invitation to all which echoes Jesus’ call to the last and the least.
  • · With radical hospitality to a wide array of folks.
  • · With an effort toward excellence that puts our best foot forward.
  • · With enthusiasm and warmth.
  • · With dignity, respect, love and generosity.

I believe that as we seek to live out and live into this vision we are engaged in the most important activity taking place on the planet today.

  • · In a world that envisions scarcity and want, we are living out a vision of plenty and enough for everyone.
  • · In a world that exudes violence toward those who are different in some way our vision is inclusive and welcoming.
  • · In a time that is too often despairing this is a vision of hope.
  • · In a world that envisions getting over on people, this is a vision of hospitality toward people and treating others with justice.
  • · In a post-modern world of fragmented thinking, this is a unifying vision of human harmony in service of God our creator.
  • · In a world of guilt and grudges this is a vision of forgiveness and reconciliation based on the Cross of Christ.

We cannot do better than living into this vision; and the church, this church, offers a chance for people like you and me to make a difference for good with the stewardship of our time, talent, gifts, service and visionary imagination. Living into this vision offers the opportunity to join on the side of God and the angels to bring this vision of a heavenly banquet into being.

Amen and amen.

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