Exposed at the Table...

The Apostle Paul confesses:

"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25a, NIV)

You and I find ourselves in the middle of a war. While for many of our brothers and sisters around the world this war is also filled with literal violence and bloodshed, for us the battle is most often unseen, unnamed, and secret. The battle in which you and I are engaged is real, and it is more than simply a battle for our heart. There are real casualties and real consequences, the choices we make can literally reshape the world. And yet for most of us, we come together acting as if this battle isn’t ongoing or as if Christ has already won the battle. 

But if we learn anything about the Table from Scripture it is this:

The Table is the place where we learn who we really are, and it is the place where we invited to become all that God has for us to be. 

The Table was the place where Judas knew who he had become,

Where the disciples learned that they were still concerned with prestige and power (“who was the greatest”) instead of with the Prince of Peace,

Where the Corinthians learned that in their assembly it still mattered if you were rich or poor, man or woman.

For us the Table exposes our hearts and lives to one another. 

What it exposes, and how it exposes vary, but the reality is that when we gather to remember the One who gave his life that we might be reconciled to God, we are given a chance to see ourselves and our brothers and sisters for who we really are. 

We are the broken, the hurting, the struggling, the jaded, the wandering, the lonely, the silent, secret, somber Children of God. 

We are a people at war. We find that our hearts are pulled in a thousand directions, and that the things we don’t want to do… those are the very things we do.

We are people with secrets, with failures, with fears and insecurities that would devastate us if they ever became public. Many of us hold on to things that if they were ever exposed at this table, we would not gather around it among these people again. 

And the Word made flesh knows all of this. He knows your secrets, your hidden shame, your fear of being found out. 

And this is why he bids you, no, why he begs you, to come to the Table. 

Because you see this is a war that we cannot survive alone. No one can live through this battle for our hearts and for the world by themselves. Not even the Son of God was able to live and love and serve and heal and give his life without the love and nurture and strength of others. 

So coming to the Table is not God’s way to expose us in order to lead to shame, but to the breaking of chains, to the release of the captives, and to the confidence that “he who began a good work in [you] will carry it onto completion.”

So this morning you are invited to the Table to see yourself as you are, and to become all that God has made you to be. 

Michael Hanegan