Communion

Welcome to the Table

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Below is a post I wrote last Thursday as a guest post for my friend Byron Myers. He does a devotional thought every week on his blog. This week, he asked me to guest post a thought. Special thanks to Byron for giving me this opportunity.  His website is http://weeklydevotionalthoughts.blogspot.com 

Luke 24: 15-16 – “15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”

Luke 24: 30-35 – “30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

I have learned lately that when we read Scripture, maybe our first question ought to be, “What does this tell us about God?” So often we read and immediately ask, “How does this apply to me?” The more I learn about Scripture, the more I believe the underlying story is always God. It is his story that testifies to his faithfulness. Luke 24 reveals something profound to me about the way in which God works.

This is an interesting story. We have two of Jesus’ disciples on the road headed to Emmaus. They are perplexed by what just happened. They have spent a considerable amount of time following this man they thought was the Messiah, and now he has suffered and died. Then we see Jesus come alongside their journey and interject himself into their conversation. Verses 15 and 16 are very interesting because while Jesus is present with them in body and conversation, the text says their eyes could not recognize who he was. So Jesus walks with these men and explains to them about the suffering ways of the Messiah. The story then reaches a climax in verses 30 and 31. Jesus gathers these two men around a table, breaks bread with them, and it is in this moment that their eyes are opened and they recognize Jesus.

It is fascinating to me how God reveals himself. It is the announcement of a king, but not an announcement from the palaces of Rome or even from the temple in Jerusalem. God announces his kingdom coming to shepherds in a field. It is an announcement of a king that has been born in a backwater village in the tiny insignificant town of Bethlehem. And on top of that, this king of the world has been placed in a feeding trough. God has finally come and established his dwelling among humans, and he has done it in the form of a human. It is simple. It appears foolish in some regards. However, it is the simplicity of the coming of God that is so complex and profound. God reveals himself through the form of a human, born of a teenage virgin outside of the realm of significance in the ancient world, and placed in a cow’s drinking dish.

So, at the end of Luke’s story, it is fitting that it is in the simple and yet so complex setting of table fellowship that Jesus reveals himself to his disciples. These two disciples struggle to see Jesus for who he is. They struggle to recognize a suffering Messiah who has been crucified like a criminal outside of the city gates and placed in a borrowed tomb. And to reveal himself, Jesus does not invite these two to see him on his throne. Rather, he invites them to gather around his table. When he breaks bread with them, their eyes are opened. It is in the simple act of table fellowship and bread breaking that the disciples see the Lord.

This, I believe is why we commune. This is why gathering around the Lord’s Table every week is so important to me. Sometimes it seems rote and emotionless. Other times the moment swims with meaning and feelings. Every time, Jesus meets us in that moment. God is revealed to us. We look around while we eat the bread and drink the cup and we see a diverse group of people gathered around one table. Everyone has enough. No one goes in need. All are welcomed and all have their fill. No one is greater or lesser than another. We gather around the table and get a glimpse of what it looks like when God’s future becomes a present reality.

So, we come to the Lord’s Table in a seemingly simple act of breaking bread and Christ is revealed to us. We are shaped a bit more into his image to better live into his mission. We are filled with his presence. We then leave that table with a picture of what it looks like to welcome, to share, to be hospitable, and to love. We leave filled with Christ in order to go and be Christ. As the men in this story, we go and tell how God’s world has been made known to us in the breaking of the bread.

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