If you know us well, you know that one of our most treasured possessions is our table. It is nothing fancy, but it is huge and it is ours. We bought it deeply discounted at a Pottery Barn Outlet because of dings and dents. Over the years we have added countless other scratches and marks of ownership that even the Magic Eraser, that mysterious wonder of cleaning products, cannot heal.
We don’t have fine china; in fact, we don’t have any china. We rock Ikea plates and strange silverware that we thought looked cool twelve years ago when we chose our wedding registry (clearly our tastes have changed). Our glasses are a hodgepodge of pieces that haven’t broken over the years. All that to say, when our table is set, it is nothing to write home about.
Yet, there is something about setting the table that speaks of love and wreaks of anticipation. A set table, even if boasts only paper napkins and chipped plates, invites and summons, for the purpose of a meal is twofold: nourishment and intimacy.
Nourishment. We need to be fed often and daily. It is a matter of life and death, literally. Frills or no frills, we need to eat. Yet, a meal is not simply about choking food down, but enjoying the presence and company of those we most love. Intimacy.
As I am in the process of preparing a 4-week course for the women at our Church, Studying the Bible with Your Heart & Mind, I cannot shake the image of a beautifully set table.
Even though we don’t own fine linens and I have never measured a single thing set on our table, I have found my heart longing to go to great lengths to set the table for the feast of God’s Word. Setting women before the rich Word of our Living God feels weighty, and as such, I want to be certain that every cup matches and every place setting sparkles. I have felt an immense and fitting pressure to proverbially find the best linens and most beautiful candles that should accompany such a Divine feast. But somewhere, in the process of preparing, I think I have begun to lose sight of the twofold purpose of the class in the first place: to set people before the food of Jesus (the Word of God) and the face of Jesus.
From the image of a beautifully set table, measured and crumb-swept Downton Abbey style, my mind jumps to Jesus. I imagine Jesus, with anticipation and care, setting innumerable tables for two, some fancy, some casual, some picnic blankets in parks, some to-go meals for the commute to work, eager to both feed His beloved children and to sit in intimacy with each of them.
He sets the Table. His Cross turned sideways has become the Table. He is the food. He is the host.
We live in the Already/Not Yet. Intimacy with Jesus has been opened by way of the Cross; yet we are not fully free from sin and able to sit face-to-face with our Beloved. The Cross turned sideways has become a table, an access point of nourishment and intimacy with the Lord until the day when we sit down at the wedding supper of the Lamb, seeing our Christ face-to-face.
The table has been set, the food is rich, the company unparalleled. May we become people who come to the tables He sets daily, no matter the state in which we find ourselves. May we feed on His food and enjoy glimpses of His face until the day when we will feast with Him face-to-face for endless days.