Psalm 23:5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.Luke 22:8. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”1 Cor 11:26. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
As we celebrate Easter in this time of unprecedented changes, I have an absolute trust that God has prepared a table for us in the presence of our enemies. God’s table is a place where we can share moments, meals and lives together. It is a table to which we can invite the vulnerable, the hurting and the anxious and fearful. It is a table where we can break bread together, and remember Christ life and his sacrificial death. It is also a place where can confidently proclaim the resurrection hope we have in Jesus.Inviting the Poor the Lame and the Blind to the Table
Jesus draws on the powerful symbolism of feasting around a banquet table a number of times in his teaching and actions. In the “Parable of the Great Banquet” Jesus tells a story about a man who invited many guests to come to a feast but they refused. So instead he went out into the highways and byways and invited the poor the lame and the blind to come to the feast (Luke 14:15-23). That speaks of our calling to welcome everyone to come to the table and hear about Jesus and the new life he can give us. There is a place for everyone at God’s table.Celebrating the Passover Meal at the Table
Later in the book of Luke, we read how Jesus entered Jerusalem to the praise of the crowds and then sent his disciples on ahead of him to prepare a table for the Passover meal (Luke 22:7-38). Passover was one of the three great feasts of the people of Israel (Deut 16:16; Levit 16:16). At the Passover meal table, Jesus “broke bread” and spoke symbolically of his body broken for us and his blood shed for us (1 Cor 11:23-26). He then acted out the deep symbolism of that meal as he gave his life for us on the cross. As we celebrate Good Friday this Easter, we can continue to break bread in our homes at our meal tables. As one church in many locations, we can also participate online in remembering together all that Christ has done for us.Proclaiming our Resurrection Hope Around the Table
As the people of Israel gathered together for the feast of Passover they also celebrated the first fruits of the spring harvest (Lev 23:9-14). Easter is a time when we celebrate the first-fruits of our resurrection hope. The resurrected Christ is the first fruits of the eternal life we can all experience in him (1 Cor 15: 20-22). We can share that same resurrection life with Christ, both now and in the age to come. When we gather together to celebrate “at the table” we share symbolically in the life, death AND resurrection of Christ. Jesus rose again and we can also experience new life in him.
Breaking bread “at the table” is a rhythm of Church life we can continue to celebrate online as one church in many locations in new and creative ways during this time (Acts 2:42-47). We need to practice social distancing but we do not need to be socially isolated. We can continue to “break bread together” in our homes in new and creative ways, and we can invite others to participate online. That includes the vulnerable and the marginalised in our communities. This is an opportunity to be the church in the community in new ways we may not have experienced before. Let’s pray that we will all rediscover in a fresh way the resurrection hope we find in Jesus; and let’s share that hope with others.Discussion Questions
1. What are some of the emotions that you are feeling because it is no longer possible to go out and socialise around a meal?
2. Why do you think gathering together to eat a meal, often around a table, is such an important part of social life in every culture?
3. Why do you think Jesus and the early church placed such a strong emphasis on the symbolic re-enactment of the last supper and “breaking bread together” as a regular rhythm of Church life?
4. Share stories about times when the celebration of communion has been particularly meaningful to you.
5. As a life group discuss creative ways you can make the celebration of Easter and a regular communion celebration meaningful in your homes and as you gather together online.
6. Discuss ways now and in the next six months how you can include others “around your table” particularly those who may be more vulnerable during this time of social distancing.
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