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On Preparing a Table


In a society ravaged by loneliness, the table serves as a poignant symbol for the healing power of community. In Psalm 23, it is stated that God prepares a table in the presence of our enemies. Could the greatest enemy we face in Western society be the despair and darkness that follows isolation? Recent studies prove that loneliness is one of our greatest epidemics in North America, wreaking havoc on the mental health and well-being of individuals of all ages, across all regions. What if we took this imagery literally, and prepared a table for those who were shrouded by fear and lost in the wilderness? The physical act of eating is universal: it crosses languages and religions. Throughout scripture, in particular the New Testament and teachings of Jesus, the theme of eating, feasting, and reclining at a table is ubiquitous, representing a place of belonging in the kingdom of God. Perhaps the solution to the age-old problem of disconnection and disunity is simple: to gather and eat together. 

God reveals one of His greatest mysteries to us -- the revelation of His new covenant -- around a table using bread and wine. As he did so, the disciples argued about who was the greatest. He said: "For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves." (Luke 22:27). As followers of the shepherd, we are being led first and foremost, but we also are then invited to lead, or shepherd, others along the way. It is our privilege and duty to feed and nurture others in God's kingdom. All are invited to come to the table, to recline and drink and fill themselves. It is not simply a powerful metaphor; it is a tangible practice of God's mercy and goodness. It is my opinion that it is also the practical power of God to defeat the enemy of loneliness we face. 

This creative essay uses various styles and methods to illustrate this concept while inviting the reader to understand how tangible the concept can be outside of a world of academics. Beginning with a liturgy over a table, a blessing is spoken and the table imagery is established for reader as they ponder the essay that follows. Using a lyrical style of writing, the essay verges between poetry and instruction, weaving together descriptive language with a final a call to action.  


Image of God, Psalm 23, church responsibilities, Church trends, global church