Maundy Thursday Reflection (inspired by the title of Len Sweet’s book From Tablet to Table)
I wonder why our table theology is not what we’re known for – because it seems to me this, gathering here around a table, sharing food and fellowship, all in the name of Jesus and in the Spirit of love, is probably our most heartfelt and powerful expression of our faith. But out there they don’t know us as people of the table, they think of us as people of the tablet.
Moses had a profound, mind-bogglingly wondrous experience of the Holy on a mountaintop in the wilderness and emerged from that encounter with two stone tablets proclaiming God’s 10 commandments for living faithfully. Gathering at table is not one of the 10. Sadly.
I wonder if our Jewish roots in honouring God’s law have created the impression that we are people of the tablet, and later the book.
I wonder if Moses even meant to establish such a thing – but maybe he needed to because the Israelites in the wilderness were a lost bunch.
I wonder if we’re so different.
I wonder what God’s tablets would say if someone came down the mountain today with them.
I wonder if that’s exactly what Jesus was living out!
Jesus said plainly that he did not come to ignore the law but to fulfill it. What is the law for? – To facilitate union with the Holy Mystery we call God. The purpose of the tablets was communion.
I wonder why we chose to use the tablets as measuring sticks and for drawing lines in the sand.
I wonder why so many Christians, so many of us, use Jesus that way too.
How did Jesus use the tablets?
Instead of using them as a means of correction he used them as a means of connection.
Instead of standing them up as a barrier between us and God’s Presence Jesus laid the tablets down and made a table out of them.
For generation upon generation Jesus has gathered the followers of his Way around these tablets, this table, and invites us to eat, drink, and enjoy – to live, to love.
Jesus draws us to the tablets to experience communion – with him, with God, and with one another.
It’s such a simple, mundane, ordinary thing.
It’s such a wondrous, awesome, extraordinary thing.
I wonder how we missed this before.
I wonder why we don’t wear a table around our necks instead of a cross.
Our tables are the centerpieces of our homes and meeting places – the gathering place for our families and friends.
How many times a day do you gather around a table?
Do you do it in love?
Think of all the tables you sit at. Think of those you sit with.
I wonder if we see the Sacred gift of Presence in those mundane gatherings.
I wonder if we notice.
I wonder if we’re present.
Are you present to those gathered with you?
Look around this table right now. Make eye contact.
Be present to one another. See one another.
Notice one another. Love one another.
“I give you a new commandment,” said Jesus.
“I command you to love one another as I have loved you.
I command you to draw one another to the table as I have drawn you.”
Draw one another to communion as Jesus draws us.
Draw one another. Love one another.
Jesus said our faith is not one that uses tablets as weapons – our faith is one that lays those weapons down, draws one another near, and nourishes our individual and corporate bodies with food and drink, with bread and wine, and the Presence of God.
I wonder why that was so threatening that Jesus had to be silenced.
I wonder if we can draw on the power of the table today.
I wonder who we can draw to the table with us.
As you leave this table take the communion you’ve experienced here with you and let it fuel your journey – for not everything is a mountaintop. We are entering a dark valley. There will be pain, and heartache, and loss.
But we are not alone.
Remember the table.
Tomorrow morning you will arise knowing it will be a hard day in our spiritual journey. And you will break your fast at a table. You will gather around the tablets inviting you to communion with God. Even in the darkness you are not alone. And neither was Jesus. Ever.
I wonder if we can remember this.
I wonder if this will be enough to carry us through this weekend.
I wonder if we can learn to see every table we gather at as an extension of this table
– this table where we are drawn by Jesus
– this table where we experience God’s Presence in the simplicity of ordinary food and ordinary people. So mundane, so sacred, so wondrous.
But no matter how open and inviting we make our table some will refuse to draw near. Some will feel threatened. Perhaps it’s because they can’t see past the tablets that they’ve held so tightly for so long.
I wonder what it will take for some people to open their hand and lay down their tablets and draw near to the table.