This is our dining room table. It’s old. We’re not sure exactly how old it is, because my wife’s grandmother bought it at a second-hand store when she was a newly-wed. It’s been in her family for a bit over 70 years, probably.
We really love this table. It fits our rustic style (because it’s old). But more than style, the table has nostalgia. The table isn’t the oldest, most beautiful, or most interesting piece of furniture we have. But it is special.
This table is a testimony. If you look closely, you can see where my wife pressed her pencil into her homework when she was in school. You can see where her father did the same. It was the table that her grandmother laid out a coffin as the centerpiece of her halloween haunted house. It has been the location of countless milestones and memories. Our daughter’s baptism, the signing of contracts, the place we’ve marked holidays and feasts. It is where we have had breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, with each stage of life marked by the minuscule changes that each day brings. It is a constant – a reminder that despite the fact that on any given day we may be laughing or weeping, we are part of a bigger history.
And while this is lovely, this table won’t last. Some day, it will rot, or burn, or break. Tables don’t last forever. Families, though longer lived, don’t last forever.
“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” The apostle Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church, explaining one piece of meaning we find in the Lord’s Table. It is a testimony and a downpayment.
Week after week (or monthly, or daily, depending on the tradition) – the family of God gathers at the table of the Lord for a meal. It is a token meal, generally only consisting of a small bite – but it connects us to a greater something. It is a reminder of the feast that lies ahead, and affirms the testimony of what has come before. For the past two millennia, our family has gathered around the table. It is a constant. It is where we have marked the milestones.
In some places and times we have celebrated, and in some we have wept. New members enter the family by birth and by faith. Young become old, children become parents, and saints go on to glory, seated at the feast table. We gather around the table in joy and in sorrow – because this table is a testimony. We who gather around it and receive from it are part of something much bigger – an eternal family and an eternal feast. Thanks be to God.