By Mandy Smith
The phrase “come to the table” can mean gathering to find understanding, as in meeting to discuss how to solve a problem or end a disagreement. Lawyers “come to the table” to reconcile quarreling spouses. Warring nations “come to the table” to discuss how to end the fighting. We often think of reconciliation in these legal and political ways. But what if the table were not in an office or a war room? What if, instead of a conference or strategy table, it was a dinner table, groaning under the weight of a sumptuous feast?
We often read or pray a confession before we take Communion. Are we picturing God as we do this? What do we imagine is his posture as he listens to us?
It’s important to confess these things and to acknowledge the significance of what is about to happen through Communion; it is important to understand our need to reconcile with the Father. But it’s easy sometimes to imagine we are confessing to a reluctant Father . . . talking him into reconciliation . . . pleading for him to hear and receive us. What if, instead, God is listening intently, paying attention to our every word? And what if, as he listens, he is carefully setting the table? What if, by the time we finish saying, “Please receive us back . . . can we be together again?” God is already smiling warmly and patting the spot he’s made for us at the table?
We read in Scripture: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).
Before he died, Jesus set that table of reconciliation; he invited us to join him there, so that once more we might live at peace with him. He has done all it takes for us to be with him again: he initiated the reconciliation process, he set the table, he extended the welcome, he became the feast. All we need to do is come to the table. He waits for us there.
Mandy Smith serves as pastor at University Christian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the author of Making a Mess and Meeting God: Unruly Ideas and Everyday Experiments for Worship (Standard Publishing) and The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry (IVP Books).