We have two dining tables. One is a solid oak, Mennonite built behemoth, smooth and long, perfectly finished. It stretches out a mile to fit our family and friends with comfortable chairs to match. I love this table. It makes me feel like cooking a roast of something and inviting everyone I know to come and eat with my family. It deserves table runners, charger plates and a fantastic floral centerpiece. Love it.
We also have an old, scratched, cleverly designed, straight off the Boat from Holland, nearly antique, 2 chairs missing dining set. It is too small for our family, the chairs are very straight backed and not so comfy. It is currently in our bedroom as the "sit and have tea while working on your laptop" table.
But guess which table I love more?
That old Dutch beauty has a place in my heart. I love the story of Chris' grandparents buying it as their wedding set and storing it in the barn during the war. I love the idea of my mother-in-law's family using that table in a part of the world I may never see. The idea of meals shared, stories told, cups spilled on this table just warms my heart.
And yet, we now have it relegated to the bedroom where no one but my husband and I get to see it. Why?
Five years ago, when we had *only* four children, we began to find that the table was getting a bit squishy for all of us. We had the 4 matching chairs for the set and then 2 folding-card-table chairs around the table. It was a sight. We decided it would be easier, and more fun for the kids, if we set up the card table in the dining room too. So there would be two girls at the card table and then the other four of us at the 'big' table. It allowed for more elbow room and a bit nicer looking table.
One day, my dear April (it is always April), who was 3 at the time, was sitting at the card table, where I thought she would feel like a big girl, eating all by herself.
As the rest of us sat down to say grace and fill up plates, tears filled April's eyes. When I asked her what was wrong she let the flood gates open, saying, "I just don't feel like part of your family when I sit way over here."
"Way over here" was directly over my shoulder. I could put my hand on her leg from my seat. We held hands with her when we prayed. I passed her her food and drink as quickly as I did the other children, and yet because she was at the "wrong" table, she didn't feel like part of my family.
Needless to say, we, in very short order, used our Income Tax Refund to purchase the Mennonite Table that fits all of us in one place.
Which brings me to today: Maundy Thursday. Quite possibly the most meaningful day for me in the Easter Week. It is all about 'being at the same table'. It is all about 'feeling like family'.
Do you think the disciples appreciated the significance of that Last Supper? Jesus invited them to his table. He served them, ate with them, prayed with them, taught them. They shared a meal like a family, but so much more. He showed them how he was going to make it possible for them to be at his family's banquetting table forever.
And so tonight, as I go to church to celebrate this mysterious meal with my extended family, I will imagine all of us together at the 'big table' sharing a meal of immeasurable significance, uniting our hearts to each other, and to Christ.
How incredible is that? What a thought: that my Creator and my King would invite me to His table, to His family, to His Kingdom. With that as my focus, the rest of the weekend will be so much more powerful as I discover what great cost that invitation carried for Jesus. A simple invitation to eat with Him and sit at His table will cost Him his life.