Tonight, as we gathered around a big table, sharing pizza and conversation at our regular pub night, I wondered again how many tables Jesus built in his life. Now I know, it’s never stated explicitly in the Gospel stories that Jesus was a carpenter. We assume so because most kids followed in the footsteps of their parents when choosing a line of work. If Joseph was a carpenter, Jesus at least had some experience and skills by helping his father for a good chunk of his life.
However, even if we talk in a more metaphorical and not literal sense, we recognize that Jesus was all about tables.
Eating with sinners. Engaging in dialogue in public and private places. Celebrating the holy feasts of his tradition.
Tables were a tool for his ministry, a way to share his message, a place to connect with others and extend God’s word of love and redemption.
To be more blunt about it, borrowing the words of a genius Latino pastor who spoke at a General Assembly a few years back (as told by my friend and regional minister of the Rocky Mountain region, Jose Morales), “Our Lord didn’t build walls – our Lord built tables.”
Our little community, the Table, is all about this idea. When we gather around God’s table, we recognize Christ’s presence with us and the boundaries between us becoming a little thinner. Sure, they may remain for quite a long time – boundaries of class, race, culture, finances, and education. But it is something mysterious and beautiful when, as we share the bread and the cup, we are drawn closer together by God’s doing, not by our own. It’s healing – it’s reminding us that, even though we are different, we are one. In that moment, we know that there is a little less brokenness and fragmentation in the world.
The world needs a little more unity right now.
May we all have the courage to follow after Christ, tearing down walls and building tables, casting out fear and living into wholeness, one meal at a time.