Revisiting Pastor Bob’s Vision from 07.26.2018 THE PEOPLE OF THE TABLE

I have loved this sculpture ever since I saw it first-hand in 2006. I was with a peace delegation of Disciples’ seminary students in Bosnia, and it was the last day of our 2-week trip. We spent that last day and night at a monastery known as the “House of Peace” in Scit-Rama Lake. The monastery sits in a beautiful setting in the middle of the lake, and it is adorned with many wonderful religious sculptures. I have a copy of the famous “Rama Cross” in my office, but it was this sculpture of The Lord’s Table that captivated my consciousness. 

At first glance, I thought that either the artist left the work unfinished, obviously leaving out one of the disciples. But my guide instructed me that was not the case. Rather, the vacant spot at the table was the spot left for me! And you! And for absolutely and unconditionally anyone else in the world! All of us, just as we are, invited to join the other disciples at the table with our Lord Jesus. 

It still astounds me that Jesus was God’s answer to all of us sinful people in the world today. Jesus never rejected anyone. He never said “No” to anyone. He never said you are not welcome to be part of my following. And despite what so many of our misled religious denominations say, he never ever said, “I’m sorry, but there is no place for you at my table.” 

You see friends, as hard as it is to admit for so many of us, Jesus came to us and sacrificed himself for us “so that the whole world might be saved.” (John 3:17) In case you can’t or won’t acknowledge it, that simply means that God loves all people (even the worst of us) unconditionally, and that all of us will be welcomed home with God … in God’s time and according to God’s will. There are no exceptions to this. 

Now, I know many of you have been trained in the ways of a judgmental God that will “separate the sheep from the goats” and send the sheep to heaven and the goats to hell. But that is not the message nor the spirit of Jesus’ teaching. For example, the “sheep and goats” story is from Matthew 25, and it’s a story of how we are supposed to live here on earth – today. In essence, Jesus is teaching us that we can create our own “living hell” based on how we live … not after we die. Jesus came to open the gates of eternal life for all of us, here and now – never qualifying that salvation based on religion or doctrinal beliefs or earning our way there. Jesus came and delivered “grace” to all of us – a free gift from God that shows us what unconditional love looks like when it meets imperfect humans. 

The Lord’s Supper is the perfect replication of this unconditional sacrificial love offered to all of us by grace alone. There is nothing you have to do to earn it. All you have to do is receive it! And I believe that ultimately all of us will receive it, some sooner than others. For me, based on my life experience, the sooner the better! Because living a life for God is soooooo much better that living a life for me. In fact, that life for God today is my salvation – here and now! That life is my “Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

We Disciples are known as “The People of the Table.” The Communion Table is almost always at the center of the altar in a Disciples church. The serving of Communion is the centerpiece of our worship service. And, we come to the Table of the Lord every single Sunday – and sometimes more often than that. 

Let us NEVER let the Table of the Lord become routine or blasé for us. Take another look at the picture of the sculpture of the Lord’s Supper. 

Focus on that vacant spot at the Table. Imagine yourself, being there, seeing the other disciples at the Table. You even recognize some of them. And then Jesus motions you forward. He tells you that there is nothing you could do to ever separate you from His love. And then He points to the open spot … which you solemnly move into. He tells you that His body will be broken for you and His blood will be shed for you. And then He feeds you. The Bread of Life and the Cup of the New Covenant. And you become filled with His glory and His grace. 

And right then and there, in that very moment, you make a promise to yourself and a covenant with Jesus – that you will never ever again take Communion as a matter of routine or be even the slightest bit blasé about it. That vacant spot is yours now … eternally. Claim it and own it. And salvation is yours!

Meet me at the Table this Sunday!

Pastor Bob