Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The gathering table

Today’s Reading: John 20:5-7 (NIV)

5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

Good morning!

I’ve decided that dinner time is not what it used to be. When I was a little girl, supper was served at 6pm sharp. It seemed as if all the families on our block sat down for their evening meal at approximately the same time. When mothers sounded the dinner alarm; children came inside to wash up. The circle drive became quiet, as we inhaled the delightful scent of suppertime floating around the neighborhood. When our own children were growing up, we made it a point to share the family meal together around the table every night. Unfortunately, life became way too busy with evening meetings and after school practices and games. Dinnertime became unrecognizable, often served out of a fast food bag in the back seat of the family station wagon. Our dinner table became a place to finish homework and a catchall for books and coats. If I could go back in time and change a piece of my personal family history, I would want to restore the time-honored tradition of family meal time around the table in our home. It is an event that warrants our very best effort as we share time together. We are far too busy to realize what it is we miss when we do not make time to come to the gathering table. Wouldn’t you like to slow down a bit and make time for a meal with your family tonight?

Dinnertime is an important tradition in Jewish family life. The servants prepare the table for the feast that is being offered. The Master would take his place at the head, reclining and enjoying food and fellowship with his children, family and friends. The servant would wait patiently and watch for the Master to finish eating. He knew when the meal had ended as the Master took his cloth napkin, wiped his mouth and beard, and tossed it onto the table. This was the servant's que that the meal had was over. If, however, the Master folded his napkin and placed it neatly at the head of the table, it meant that he was not yet finished would be coming back to finish what He had begun. When this happened, the servant knew not to clear the table, but waited patiently for His Master’s imminent return.

Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved could not believe what they were seeing. The strips of linen that had wrapped Jesus’ body were laying there, in the exact same position as the body had been placed inside the tomb. It was as if the Master had passed right through it! Even more amazing was how the burial cloth that had covered the Lord’s face had been folded neatly and placed near the strips of linen. Jesus was clearly not finished and He is coming back real soon!

Jesus Christ is calling all of us to the gathering table. Can you smell the sweet scent of salvation wafting in the air? Come join me as we wait together for our Heavenly Host. Dinner will be served shortly!

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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