On our way to the Promised Land...

In the early days of the Restoration Movement there was a clear emphasis that perhaps has been forgotten in our time. The thing that they articulated time and again was that the most important thing that the community of believers did in their gathering was not to sing or even to hear the Word proclaimed but to gather around the table. Alexander Campbell went as far as to call the Lord's Supper The Christian Institution. 

We understood something that the church throughout history has known well. This meal does more than remind us of the life and work of Jesus, it nourishes us for the life of faith. The Table is rooted deeply in the central stories of the Old Testament. And it is from these stories that we understand that the Table of the Lord serves to sustain us in our faith in memory, reflection, and anticipation. 

This table bears the echoes of the Passover meal in which the people of Israel were sustained for the beginning of their exodus from slavery in Egypt. It was a meal that prepared them for their journey with God where they would become his people. In the same way this meal serves to prepare our hearts for God's continuing work of leading us out from our slavery to the ways of the world.

This table bears the echoes of the Manna in the wilderness in which the people of Israel were nourished for their journey to the Promised Land. We too come to this table today to receive strength and grace for our continued wandering in the wilderness as we are led by the Spirit on our way to the world that God has promised. We are sustained as we experience the redemption of our lives and as we await the redemption of the world. 

And finally, this table bears the echoes of the Messianic Banquet in which all of God's people throughout time will join together in the presence of Almighty God in a world in which death, suffering, and hunger no longer exist. Where every hint of evil has been removed, where Egypt is but a memory, and where Manna is no longer necessary because we find ourselves at the Table of the King. 

And so we come today in the middle of our journey. Some of us have been walking towards the Promised Land for a long time and we need to be sustained. Some of us find ourselves still trapped in Egypt, and come to the table this morning in expectation of our deliverance. We all find ourselves longing for a world in which God reigns supreme, in which evil is no more, and where we see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit face-to-face. 

And so we come to the table today not because it is our tradition, but because it is indispensable to our survival as the people of God. Come and be nourished. Join your fellow wanderers in looking to Christ and seek him together. 

Come and be filled. 

Michael Hanegan