Come to the table.
Come, take and eat.
For here we find a promise fulfilled, an enemy conquered, a joy restored.
This is His body, broken.
This is His blood, shed.
This is our inheritance.
I find my life centered around a table. Raised dipping my finger in sauces, rolling piles of dough, elbow deep in the dishes. Paul Simon and Johnny Cash’s voices melding with the clatter, snap, sizzle. The kitchen table boasting of piles of schoolwork and empty bean bowls. Dinner as an event, comparable to the Peloponnesian War (invasion, false peace, destruction #homeschoolpoints), menu’s reaching from Greece to New Mexico to our own Northwest.
And now on my own, my shelves hold a substantial collection of cookbooks, food memoirs and food science. My cupboards are mostly bare but I have enough of the necessities to compel me back to the kitchen again and again; butter, garlic, onion, potato, meat, salt, cayenne, whiskey. The feel of the blade on the cutting board, the fragrance of butter browning, the satisfaction of a work well done.
I wouldn’t say cooking is a passion or a calling, it’s a habit simple, ingrained into my being. I would not be Hannah without my dimples, in the same manner I wouldn’t be a Farris without the kitchen.
So it is natural that I keep coming back to the table. My favorite memories take note of it (blog posts: here, here, and here), when I am sad, bored or joyful I find myself drawn to it, when I need renewal I sit at it.
The table stands as commonality, a bridge between generations. It is where we discuss births and deaths, beginnings and ends and all the time in between. It is where we feel loss and joy the most, holiday dinners with an empty seat, laughter and tears. It is where we tell old stories and sit with new friends.
This is not an accident, nor a mistake. This was designed by a God who saw that we were mere men and gave us bread for our nourishment and wine for our joy. Who knew our need before we blinked and created for us a resting place.
He calls us to the table, one set before us in the presence of our greatest enemy.
You cannot talk about love without talking about Christ.
You cannot talk about Christ without telling the story of the table.
You see, once there was a man who followed the Greatest of all Masters. This man was once a fisherman but he turned from his old ways to follow the Great Master. The Great Master called him a man of rock.
One day the Great Master came to the man of rock and said, “Before the rooster wakes the city you will deny you knew me.” “Oh not I!” Said the man, “I would die for you first!”
The Great Master said again, “You will say you never knew me, you will say it three times.” The man of rock was devastated that he was accused of such an offense.
But the Great Master knew the greater story and that very night He was taken to be beaten and executed for the crimes committed by His people.
The man of rock followed close behind and came to sit outside of the place where the trial was being held. While he was sitting a servant girl came to him, “you were one of the men! You were with Him.” and he opened his mouth and said “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Shame began to fill him when he realized he had denied once.
He hurried through the gate to leave but he was stopped by another servant girl, she pointed her finger at him. “You! You were with Him!” again he found himself saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about!”
Shame for he denied twice.
Seeing a crowd gather he tried to push his way through, one of the crowd scoffed, “I’m sure you were one of His followers, it is obvious you are not from around here.”
“No! No!” the man cried, “I never knew Him.” The final denial, the sentence fell like shackles on his body.
Binding him forever to lies. He ran to the shadows and wept, bitterly.
He stripped himself of his title and became again a fisherman, returning to the sea of his past.
One day the fisherman told the men with him that he was going out to fish, they went too but were unable to catch anything. As the sun began to rise the next morning they gave up and headed back to the shore, weary and cold to the bones. When they came to the shore they saw a fire burning brightly and heard the crackling of roasting fish. They saw too a stranger. “Friends,” the stranger called out, “did you catch any fish?” “No” resentment filled their voice. “Throw your net over the right side of your boat” the stranger yelled. Skeptical but desperate they threw the nets and were amazed to find them filled to overflowing with fat, squirming fish.
The fisherman stopped to look at the stranger, but when he did he saw that it was no stranger but the Great Master who once called him a rock.
The fisherman leaped off the boat to swim to shore
“Come,” the Great Master said embracing him, “join me for breakfast.” They threw more fish onto the fire and sat with joy. After they ate their fill the Great Master turned to the fisherman, “Do you love me?” He asked.
“You know I do”
“Then feed my sheep.”
Again the Great Master asked, “Do you love me?” “Of course, you know I do!” “Then take care of my sheep.”
The Great Master then said again, “Do you love me?” The Man of Rock felt despair, was he thought to be lying? “Master, you know I love you.” “Then you must feed my sheep. Do you understand? When you were young you were your own but now you are old and belong not to yourself. So come, follow me.”
And in that moment the Man of Rock knew that he no longer needed to weep in the shadows, his title had been restored.
He felt no more shame, for he was not denied the table of his Master.
“Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us – and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.” (Getty)
We are called to follow the Great Master, and so we follow Him to the table; the kitchen table covered in crayon marks and empty coffee cups, the dinner table where the candles have begun to die down but a new bottle of wine has been opened to fuel the conversation, the Communion table where Christ shows us His hands and His side as He says ‘Blessed are the hungry, for they shall feast with the Lamb.’
“We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.” (Capon)
Remember this as your world spins, kids scream through the kitchen, days fill with conflict and everything seems to fall apart. You barely feel energetic enough to heat up leftovers. You will find that the table is still there, you only need to sit and rest.