It's no wonder that so much of our religious experience is centered on the table of hospitality. Some food, some wine, some conversation - they all open our hearts and allow us conversations that would not otherwise be possible.
Colleagues of my husband's and mine who are also friends came over for dinner last night. One of them was supposed to stay over. The event provided the kick in the hinders that I needed to get the house cleaned. I spent most of the day preparing for the dinner. The steps of preparation - the cleaning, the cooking, the setting of the table - were almost as much pleasure as the event itself. Knowing that people I care for will dine at my table is both a privilege and an opportunity to show I care for them, so I want to do it well.
The evening was, as expected, a delight. The repast was simple: starters of homemade guacamole and chips, a salad of herloom tomatoes, cukes, red onion, mesclun, and blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette, grilled Coho salmon and a French potato salad. Dessert was a cherry pie. Some nice wine from our recent travels through Virginia wine country (yes, there is a Virginia wine country) and some nice local beer for the beer drinkers among us. Conversation ranged from the vagaries of professional organizations, academic politics, intriguing ministry opportunities, ministry glitches both past and present, growing up as a missionary kid (PH), why Mibi doesn't want to go for a PhD at the institution of one of the guests (too old and too itchy to start working in a parish), living in Texas versus living in Colorado versus living in Your Nation's Capital, plus assorted general silliness. No arguing over church politics. No sniping. No one-upsmanship. As I said, a delight.
This, to me, is the true sacrament of table fellowship: this feeding of body and soul in mutual respect and love, this desire to hear everyone, to share freely, to lift up those around the table because we can see God in them.
Would that we have the same experience each time we celebrate the Lord's Supper. Would that the Eucharist could be done with respect and love, because we can see God in each person around the table. Would that I could be more true to this.