Table manners (part 2)

communionLast Sunday I said that for Jesus’ early followers, breaking bread together had economic implications. It was not only an act of remembering Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but it was a way they shared with the poor the daily material things that sustain life. What if we saw gathering at the Table as a call to break down barriers of wealth, class, education and hierarchy?

I’ve been contemplating this question ever since a recent RMC Deacon retreat. While we were together we talked about the fact that in the early church the Deacon job description was as follows: Seven people in good standing were selected to wait on tables and serve the poor. See Acts 6:1-6  Deacons are called to be Table Waiters. The word Deacon actually comes from the word diakonia which means service.

Of course RMC Deacons aren’t the only ones in our congregation who wait on tables and share resources.  We are all commissioned to be table waiters of sorts and care for those in need. In fact, if you’ve been to RMC in the morning on a weekday, there is a good chance you’ve seen this truck parked outside the church or these pallets in the entryway.

And if you’ve been to church on a Wednesday around 4:00pm, there is a good chance you’ve seen these Spirit-filled people working hard, preparing snack packs. Harvesters and its network of agencies provide a helping hand to tens of thousands of people in need every week.

Another thought I had following communion this past Sunday is that we can often get tripped up in our efforts to wait tables and give to those in need. Often our best efforts to serve can perpetuate unhealthy and even destructive patterns of hierarchy, power and control. We are often in need of humility, perspective, and I would suggest, learning how to give fully involves learning how to receive fully. That is why I have felt led to think about Jesus as The Great Table Waiter or the Great Host, the One who is Abundant Life for All. So whether we find ourselves on the giving or receiving end of table waiting (and I do hope it’s both) may we continue to draw inspiration and hope from the life of Jesus, who is Divine Nourishment and Divine Refreshment, Bread of Life and Holy Vine.

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