Friday, March 15, 2024

Preparing the Table

When we come to the Communion table, we often focus on what it is that Jesus poured out here for us - the bread and the wine, His body and His blood. And for good reason. 

But remember - this table didn't start with the gifts Jesus put on it. 

As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem with the Passover just a few days away, His disciples are the ones who asked where they should go and prepare the meal for the group. For Him. Jesus told them about the Upper Room, about who to talk with, about how to find it, and it is the disciples who went and arranged everything. 

I think sometimes, we think about Communion as a bit of a cocktail party to which we were only invited - a table we show up to where the food is already prepared, and we just sort of wander in at our own convenience and pick at the offerings, taking a little bit of bread and a little bit of juice. Chewing almost mindlessly as we meander about, not really making conversation but lingering a little just the same. We think of it as a spread that Jesus has put out before us. And, biblically, that's not quite true. 

The disciples put the work into putting the space together. The disciples actually prepared most of the meal. The disciples made the space worthy of the celebration that was about to take place there. They painstakingly made sure all of the details were exactly right, for the Passover was no small thing. It required a high level of attention to the smallest sorts of things. 

And no, we don't believe in a works-based salvation. We don't believe that our value to God is in our ability to get the details right. 

But I don't think that excuses us from being the ones who set this Table, at least in part. 

I think we have to do some preparatory work. I think we have to be the ones to get the room ready. We have to be the ones to set the tables up. We have to be the ones to say, hey, we know there's something special that's going to happen here, and we're ready for it. We're readying for it. We hear it so often from the pulpit when we approach this moment, but it's true - we have to prepare our hearts and minds to participate in this beautiful sacrament. To come to this table. 

We are the disciples who have to say to Jesus, "Where do you want us to prepare the table? How do you want us to prepare the room?" We are the disciples to whom Jesus says, "There you will find the room. Here is how you get there. Here is what you do." We are the disciples who go ahead, who set out the cups, who prepare to eat and drink so that when Jesus comes and thus comes the body and the bread, we are ready to receive it. 

Come. Come hungry. Come and ready yourself. Something sacred is about to happen here, and we are the ones who set the table. 

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