Friday, January 12, 2024

Table for More Than One

I am single. I have been single my whole life. I didn't plan to be single my whole life, and I didn't plan to be single still at this age. (And I'm kind of hoping that I won't be single my whole life....*wink*.) But this is the reality I live in. 

Being single means that I do most things by myself. When I get in my car to go somewhere, I'm by myself. When I have to go to a scary doctor's appointment, I'm by myself. When I want to go out for a walk or a run, I'm by myself. Because those I am most closely connected to have their own rituals and plans, I spend most holidays by myself. I can't play tennis - I'm by myself. And I eat almost all of my myself. 

(My situation is, admittedly, a little different because my mom is also single at this stage in her life, and some of these things, we are able to do together. But we rarely eat together, and we certainly do not play tennis.) 

But that's one of the things that I love about the Communion table - it's never set for just one. Communion is the one meal every week that I know I am not going to eat alone. It's the one time I know that there will be bread broken, and it's not just me. It's the one time I am guaranteed to feel connected to other persons. 

There are a lot of single persons in our world. Like me, some have never married. Some are divorced. Some are widowed. Some are separated, whether by animosity or by health or by work or by any number of reasons. Some are empty nesters, so their families have moved out. Some have a significant other, or more, in their life, but it's an unhealthy relationship and for all intents and purposes, they are actually single (and singleness in the midst of connectedness is the worst - like being lonely in a room full of other humans).

I think that those of us who are single in the world feel the togetherness of church, and of Communion, more deeply than those who always have someone to do things with. Than someone who doesn't have to sit at a table alone very often. 

I love having a large family. I love having a big table. I love having a feast so large that we can break it into hundreds of parts, and I can still have some. I love having a place where it is just expected that I will be there, that I will be joining this party. I wasn't invited, per se, but I am expected and welcomed. There is a place for me...and it's not in the corner by myself. 

This is the way that God intended His table. It is. This is what He had in mind. That everyone would come and have a place. That it would be the one thing in our week that we do together, for real. The Table is for all of us. Every single one...and you not single folk, too. 

But I think sometimes, we get caught up in how we do the table and it becomes a private thing for so many. We take our little cracker and our little juice or wine, and we bow our heads and we shut out everything else. That's not how it's supposed to be. That's why I wrote this. 

This week, as you gather around the Table, I want you to think about those like me - those for whom this is the only table they will share with someone else. Those who will leave this Table and go home and eat by themselves, again and again and again, and run errands by themselves and do scary things by themselves and who can't play tennis. 

Think about them, and think about the way that you come to this Table. How can we make it more of what Jesus wanted it to be - togetherness? How can we make sure that everyone who has a place here feels the connectedness of this moment in the way that they need to? How can we use one little cracker and a sip of juice or wine to fill a deep hunger and an emptiness in each other?  

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