By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
In it’s most basic form, worship is table fellowship. The earliest representation we have of Christian worship is expressed in Acts 2:42. “They devoted themselves lo the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Around the table, the early church talked about their experiences of Jesus, prayed, ate, and became family. Their experience of the table transformed them in a way that transformed the world! Mealtime binds us like few other things.
I discovered that truth for myself in college. One of my roommates, Edwin, was from Nigeria. He regularly prepared his native foods in our kitchen, filling the house with a distinct aroma that didn’t quite fit my American palate. One afternoon, after living together for weeks, Edwin invited me to share his evening meal. I remembered the aroma and searched for a suitable excuse. Finding none, I reluctantly agreed to share the meal. At the appointed time, we sat at the table across from each other. Edwin had placed one pot of a soup-like mixture on the table and one place that held a ball of dough made from Bisquick. There were no other plates or utensils. We had a blessing, and Edwin explained what I saw before me. “In my country, we eat from one bowl as a sign of friendship.” He took a piece of dough, dipped it in the soup, and ate the two together. Suddenly, I was humbled. Edwin counted me as a friend, and suddenly this odd meal became sacred. Immediately it reminded me of one loaf, one cup, one Body, one people. I understood, better than ever before, that transformation happens at the table. God unites people into the Body of Christ.
This same miracle happens so frequently we forget to notice. Sunday afternoon, Melissa and I sat down for burgers with a Sunday school class, and family happened. My small group ate a meal with homeless people at the Salvation Army, and family happened. Wednesday evening, we sit together in the gym for a meal, and family happens. This Sunday, we’ll gather at the altar for Holy Communion, and family will happen. Jesus shows up in the breaking of bread!
Even as children, we innately understood the principle. As friendships formed, inevitably we came to that sacred rite of asking if the friend could stay for dinner. Mysteriously, an afternoon of play became sacramental at the family table. As adults, we have the opportunity to embrace the world as a child, to invite our acquaintances to “stay for dinner,” and around the Lord’s table, family will happen.