By Jackina Stark
How do you come to the Lord’s Table? Surely sometimes we come weary and troubled, and we are comforted when we remember Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Maybe you don’t think of those words of comfort, however, if the source of your weariness is the weight of sin—that is, something that is not beyond your control.
Has anyone come to the table today having had a fit this week, cussing a blue streak? Has anyone come having been greedy, the very antithesis of a generous God? Has anyone come having coveted someone’s job or talent or beauty or house or mate? Has anyone come having said something hurtful or done something hateful to one of God’s children this week? Has anyone come having lied to protect or boost self?
If we are aware of our sins and weaknesses, they can trouble us to no end; they can weary a soul who has an inkling of the beauty of our good God and would like to resemble him.
George Herbert was born into privilege in 17th-century England and chose to become a country parson and poet. He loved God and knew God loves us, though “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are the creation, not the Creator. Herbert was not surprised that we need a Savior. And he thanked and praised God that we have one.
Herbert’s poem, “Love (III),” is a sweet scene between Jesus, who is aptly called “Love,” and one who feels unworthy, like many of us:
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.’
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
Come to the table today and eat and drink in remembrance of what Jesus has done. Come and rest.
Jackina Stark is a retired Ozark Christian College English professor who lives in Branson, Missouri.