Preparing a Place at the Table
“. . .and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you, this do in remembrance of me.'” I Corinthians 11:24
To get in step with the spirit of Advent, I went to a Presbyterian Women’s Christmas Communion Service today. It was over the lunch hour and I decided to meet a friend there. It was her church and we longed to connect afterwards. She met me at the grand old building with wooden pews, a stained-glass Savior and a narthex. (How often do you get to use the word “narthex” anymore?)
Ivy greens and red ribbons already encircled the marble columns outside and mocked the dreary day with their announcement: It’s Christmas time! It felt right to sit in pews and before the communion table, something my auditorium-style church supplanted. I hungered to take communion, as I did regularly in my old church—before I got married two years ago, and moved to Atlanta and followed my new family to their church. I missed it desperately, the bread and wine, and coming to the table.
My friend and I were easily the youngest Presbyterian Women at the Christmas Communion Service today. (And I’m 45.) Most were gray, some bent over their walkers, and all dressed in their proud red Christmas sweaters. Your mother was there with your grandmother and your great aunt, sitting before the table. My friend and I were surrounded. Deep wrinkles and welcome smiles. Eyes that sparkled. We were happily surrounded by red Christmas sweaters.
As a fairly new wife and step-mom (who didn’t do much cooking before I married), I began to consider all the tables these Presbyterian Women had prepared. All the meals, all the dishes, the endless preparation and repetition in care of her family. I pictured each one of the Presbyterian Women carefully planning their recent Thanksgiving, what to buy, and when. Who likes what and who doesn’t like what. My own mother had done this for our family again this year—the preparation for the table.
And I considered the anticipation. Something in a woman’s heart treasures the thought of her family crossing the threshold of her front door and sitting themselves at her table. The center of all the anticipation and preparation is her table, where she can nourish and delight her loved ones. It’s set with planning and love, considering the needs of each of her guests.
And now, we sat before the Lord’s table. And I heard Him whisper to the Presbyterian Women in their red sweaters, I prepared this for you. I have been thinking about you and anticipating the moment you’d be here. I planned to cross the threshold of your life and to welcome you to this table with love. I long to nourish and delight you. Come, eat.