Last Sunday I preached about the discipline of study: “Paying Attention to Word, Works, and Table.” I have been sharing my reflections on each of those three loci of study in a series of blog posts: the Word of God, the works of God, and the Table of God (the focus of this post).
Everything surrounding the Table of God is worthy of our careful attention and study.
I love that the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until communion time. Many communion liturgies highlight the four-fold movement that Jesus made when sitting at the table with those disciples: “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him….”
But get this: before they recognize Jesus and before he disappears, they’ve already been engaged with Jesus in the spiritual discipline of study. Luke 24:27:
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Talk about the best Bible study leader ever! They were studying the Word of God with the Word himself. Yet they missed him.
And they were studying the works of God, especially the piece of salvation history they had been so privileged to observe first-hand. Jesus plays dumb to what’s going on in Jerusalem. But then in verse 19 they carefully recount the story of the works of God they have observed: “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed….”
It’s not to pit against each other the Word of God, the Works of God, and the Table of God. May God give us the experience of his grace and presence in each of those areas of study! But it is to say that in Luke 24, Word and Works only took these disciples so far… until they sat down at the Table, with the risen Lord.
May we pay careful attention to the words we hear and say each time we approach the Table. May we give our full energy and alertness to the bread and the cup, every time we come forward to receive. When we turn our full attention to the communion table, we are poring over the words of Scripture, hearing them again and again and finding deeper meaning. When we come to the communion table, we are eating of the work of God’s creation: the grain of the earth and the fruit of the vine. And when we receive communion together, we do it in the context of this salvation narrative:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son… that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.