Gather Around the Table this Easter
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
My husband and I recently saw an adaptation of the classical movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which originally starred Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The performance took place at A.D. Players at The George Theater in Houston. It was a well written, and quite comical, story based on the difficulties families faced in the 1960s with inter-racial marriage. The scene that stood out the most to me was when the son was trying to bring both families together for dinner. In the last line of the last act, he turns to his father and says, “Dad, we need you at the table.” With that, the father joined the others, and the audience was left with the understanding that healing had begun.
Life has, and always will, center around the table. It is where families gather for celebrations and children do homework. It is where we pay bills, work on crafts and have debates. It represents a physical anchor that holds a family unit together. This is not some made up narrative created to give an inanimate object some type of meaning. The table has always been the center of life. It is significant for a reason, even if we do not fully understand why.
All we must do is search the Old Testament to see the importance the table has played. In the book of Esther, we find that the Queen of Persia was the only person that could save the Jewish people, her people, from death. At risk of her own life, she chose to approach the King and invite him and his prime minister (vizier), Haman, to a feast. It was during this dinner that Esther confronted Haman about his plot to kill the Jews. She could have used the throne to save the Jewish people, but instead, she knew the power of communion and chose a dinner party instead. The Jewish people were saved because Queen Esther gathered around the table.
We know the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. After many years and much tribulation, Joseph’s fate turned, and he became prime minister (vizier) of Egypt. His brothers thought Joseph was dead, and years later when they traveled to Egypt to seek food during the famine, they did not recognize their younger brother, who was sitting in a seat of judgement as decisionmaker for the land. After Joseph revealed himself and forgave his brothers, they celebrated with a feast, and gathered around the table.
In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were thrown in jail in Philippi for causing a disturbance in the Roman city. When the Roman guard ordered to watch over these prisoners became a believer in Christ, he released the two men, at risk of his own death. The first action the three men took was to celebrate with a meal, as they gathered around the table.
The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He and His disciples partook in the Passover meal. He explained to His followers that the bread they were eating represented His body and the wine represented His blood. These statements were to foreshadow His death that would occur the next day. Jesus spoke these words during the Jewish feast, as He and His disciples gathered around the table.
As we enter the holiest of holidays for the Christian faith, we acknowledge that Easter is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, which occurred on a Sunday three days after Passover. In the wave of our pandemic, I read one headline that said: Easter and Passover Cancelled. That struck me as very strange. If I did not have a birthday party, does that mean I did not have a birthday? Easter is an event that happened in our history. It is not a festival. The thought of “church” being cancelled is also a flawed statement. “Church” cannot be cancelled when you are gathered with others. After Christ’s crucifixion, the early church was nothing more than a few people gathered together in worship. There were no buildings or fancy rituals. It was just simple, pure worship of God. The word “church” is from the Greek word ecclesia, which means “an assembly or called out ones.” Church never has been, or will it ever be, a building. The apostle Paul wrote, “Greet the church that is in their house.” Romans 16:5. Brick and mortar do not make a church; believers make the church.
As we gather this Easter, even if it is virtually, let us make the time with those we love special and fun. But let us also remember the significance that all our gatherings have and be intentional about bringing these important moments to our families as we celebrate life, together, around the table.
Together with you,