The great J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
One can take one look at pictures of me throughout the years to see that I have never lacked in love for food. And, I have had some of the most extraordinary food from around the world. I’ll never forget having shrimp the size of my hand in Malaysia, freshly caught in the South China Sea, or freshly made curry in Sri Lanka that would make even the strongest of stomachs whimper.
But for all the fantastic food I have had the privilege of eating, nothing compares to the experience of sharing it with others. I’d rather have a gas station sandwich than an aged ribeye if it were the difference between sharing it with others than eating alone.
Jesus was all about sharing meals with others. Except, he ate meals with folks that you least expected. Of course, Jesus shared the table with the religious leaders of his day. But he also broke bread with the hated tax collectors, so-called sinners, and outcasts of his day. Jesus shared a cup with the racially discriminated Samaritans and the town whores.
We see in Jesus’ ministry of the meal a deconstruction of all social, economic, religious, political, and racial boundaries. That’s how transcendent the love of God is. It is a love that graciously and inclusively opens its table to all those we think are vile, unworthy, unrighteous, and unwanted.
The table Jesus shared with all of these people is the same table he so famously shared with the disciples in the hours leading up to his arrest and crucifixion. It is a table by which all are welcome to lay their burdens and brokenness at the feet of Jesus, knowing that his body was broken and his blood was shed for the sake of all of us, no matter who we are, what we have done, what we look like, or the value society has placed on us.
Jesus was a globalist well before we had a word to describe what bringing all nations together was formed.
As we turn our hearts to World Communion Sunday on Sunday, October 10, I pray that we recognize the boundary-breaking theological implications of Jesus’ table. May we consider how we might share a meal with others that we least expect nor desire. How might the table be a place where we can live into the fullness of Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbor as ourselves.