BY JON TSCHANZ
God, you give us the symbol of the table as one of the single most important symbols of Christianity. It’s hard to find Jesus not at the table and it’s hard to find Jesus not at the table with the outcasts, the poor, the sinner, the insider, the rich, the tax collector, the sick and destitute– there doesn’t seem to be anyone that you leave out at your table.
And, you even leave a seat for us. We haven’t always made the cut, God. We know we have not loved others like you love them. We know that we have said hurtful things, looked upon others with judgment, decided on who is in and who is out, have been self-interested instead of self-sacrificial, have excluded rather than included, have shown anger instead of compassion and somehow God, you have saved us a seat.
And, you even leave a seat for those who are different from us. Those who speak different languages, live in different cultures, are of a different complexion, color and ethnicity–there is no difference that ever separates your love.
And, you even leave a seat for our enemies. Those we hate, those we can’t stand. Those who make our blood boil and our thoughts rage. You love them, too. You pull up a seat for them, too. Paths are forged where we meet them at the table and somehow in this mystical way we learn something about you through our enemies. Then through that table, as we look at them face-to-face, we learn that they are human beings whom you love just like us.
So God, may we live lives that mimic your table, a table that represents who you are and who you want us to be. Help us be people who keep putting extra chairs at that table, because we never know who might show up.
And it is in that spirit that we pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples saying,
Our father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,