Friday, May 17, 2024

Come and Dine

I fell in love with the Table before I ever sat at it. 

Growing up, I wasn't a Christian. I went to Christian preschool, where I colored pictures of Jesus, but I didn't really know anything about this guy. My family was more interested in me learning my colors and letters than learning about the Lord; Christian preschool was simply the primary option in the 1980s. So that's where I went. 

When I finally started coming to church for real as an older child/young tween, I landed in this little country Wesleyan church in a town not far from here, where my great-aunt would take me with her. It was okay as far as churches went. I didn't understand denominational doctrine, if there even was any in this little place. There was an organ and a piano, and eventually a little drum set, and the preacher had a booming voice that carried through the small, antiquated sanctuary, reaching the ears of all seven attendees as he both preached and led the singing. 

That singing frequently included one particular song, an old hymn I had never heard of titled, "Come and Dine." 

Jesus has a table spread where the saints of God are fed; He invites His chosen people, Come and Dine. With His manna He doth feed and supplies our every need; O, 'tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time. 

Come and Dine, the Master calleth, Come and Dine. You may feast at Jesus' table all the time, O Come and Dine. He who fed the multitudes, turned the water into wine, to the hungry calleth now, Come and Dine.

I loved that song. (Loved it enough that today, more than 20 years after I left that little church, I can still sing it by heart.) 

But at that little country church, there never was a table. Not once. 

That little church never celebrated Communion. That little church never broke the body, never drank the blood. That little church never talked about the Upper Room, about the Passover, about the last night that Jesus spent with His disciples. At that little church, I didn't know there even was a Table on this side of heaven. 

But I dreamed about one. 

I dreamed about what it might be like to sit at a table with Jesus and eat. I dreamed about what manna must taste like. I dreamed about what it meant to have enough to be full, but to linger anyway because the company was so worth keeping. I dreamed about a party, a celebration, with a table not just for me and Jesus, but for everyone. I dreamed about a sacred pitch-in, or potluck, or whatever you call it.

I dreamed about having a place at that Table. 

I dreamed about coming and dining. 

And then, I came into a church that celebrates that Table. Every week. Not as a table that we're going to sit at some day when we are the saints of God, but a table that we sit at now while we are still sinners. I came into a church where I've been invited, every week, to dine. 

Anyone who knows me, who has heard me speak on a Sunday morning, knows how much I love this Table. The truth is, I fell in love with this Table long before I ever knew it actually existed, at least this side of heaven. And now that I get to eat here? I don't take that for granted. 

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