table

If New Testament scholars agree on anything regarding the nature of the church in the first three centuries, it is this: table was central. Christians broke bread together. They “did church” around the table, many times. Communion likely was part of the meal at large. Table was the central act of assembling as the “fellowship of believers.”

Think about our traditional practice of the Lord’s Supper. John Mark Hicks, in Come to the Table: Reinvisioning the Lord’s Supper, makes the point that many contemporary churches treat the Lord’s Supper as “altar” rather than the biblical image, table. People approach the altar as individuals, quietly, in solemn reflection on the death of Jesus. Hicks makes the claim that the real intention of the Lord’s Supper was celebration in community, joyfully reflecting on the resurrection of Christ.

I’d go a bit further and say that sitting around table in the context of a meal is probably even closer to Christ’s intention for the Lord’s Supper. There’s something strangely earthy and authentic about looking into the eyes of brothers and sisters in Christ as you celebrate Christ.

More and more, mission-minded people are realizing this. In the book Emerging Churches, authors Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger make the case for the centrality of the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper, in emerging churches. This celebration, above preaching, song, or even prayer, is the act of worship that is most central to Christianity. Instead of the focal point being on a preaching podium on a stage, what if the focal point was the table of Christ? I believe this was the case in most of the house churches in the first three centuries.

Communing at table is a non-negotiable for our ministry in Boston. It is no accident that the table has served as a main activity point of life for so many centuries (this may not be the case as much today, unfortunately). The table is also where much of the life of the church has “happened” throughout the centuries. So much good happens at table. So much true “communion” occurs. Ministry happens at table. Healing occurs at table. Celebration occurs at table. Jesus is with us at table.

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