It must have been awkward that first Sunday morning when that one entered the assembly in Ephesus or Corinth or Antioch.
You know the one, the one that doesn't fit in, that represents everything opposite from the people in the fledgling little church just trying to hang on to their lives.
I wonder what it was like the first week that slave and master actually finally ate at the same table. Or what it was like when the Roman soldier who months earlier had rounded up members of the church showed up, hoping to be welcomed to the table of the Lord. Or what it was like for the Jew who for the first time shared a table with an unclean Gentile. Or when a man shared a table with a woman and her child.
The table in the early church had to be, more often than not, a strange place. For what other place in all creation do people transcend the barriers that so deeply carve up the world in which we live? Where else will you find the poor and the rich, the sick and the healthy, the holy and sinful, the slave and the owner, the powerful and the powerless, together?
In a world that works so hard to clearly define where all people are, at all times, with respect to everyone else…
Who has the latest and the greatest, what are they wearing, where are they vacationing, what about their romantic life, how you too can become like him or her…
But remember, these promises silently affirm… they are here (above) and you are there (below).
You are not them, and though you may wish to be, we are all not equal.
But at this table, something inexplicable happens.
We might hope that the celebrity, the rich, the powerful, the healthy, the popular, and the important might be brought down to live with the rest of us. That the field might be leveled, that for a moment we are all the same. For a moment we are together, although we all know that in moments the separation will be tangible again. We hope that for a moment, that those people who are there (above) will join us here (below).
But this movement, of the high and mighty (above) to join the common people here below is a myth, a joke, a lie. God has something very different in mind.
You see, in a world filled with jealousy, envy, coveting, hatred, and suffering… this table transforms it all.
The playing field is not leveled to those of us below.
All who gather at the table are elevated to a place that none of us can earn… children of God. We are invited to sit at the table of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We are given the seat of honor at the table of the one who has conquered death and the grave and who, through us, is reconciling the world to himself.
And so we are learning that this table that we gather around doesn't "level the playing field", it does something so much greater… it trivializes the things that separate us. So come and learn what this means, we are the people of God and we refuse to be defined by a lesser system as to our value and mission in the world. The old world is passing away, the new has come. Come and take your place at the table of the King for you have been found worthy and welcome.