Exodus 25:23, "You are to make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, a cubit wide, and one and a half cubits high. You are to overlay it with pure gold, and put a gold molding around it. You are to make a rim one handbreadth in width around it, and you are to make a gold molding around the rim. You are to make four gold rings for it, and put the rings on the four corners where its four feet are. The rings are to be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table. You are to make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold so the table can be carried with them. You are to make its plates, dishes, jars, and bowls from which libations will be poured, and you are to make them of pure gold. You are to put the bread of the Presence on the table before me continuously.”
One of my fondest memories growing up as a child, and even till this day, is going to visit family for the holidays. It was the highlight of the year for the entire family to come together and celebrating the holiday season. But, the honest truth was everyone couldn't wait to get to The Table! Yes, the table full of holiday food that my grandmother, mother, aunts and cousins would spend days preparing for this amazing time together.
Everyone had their special dish they were known for. Mac & cheese, corn pudding, potato salad, cakes, pies and countless other goodies. Of course, you couldn't go without my grandmother's home-made dressing. I can remember as a kid sitting in the kitchen watching her make it. If she was feeling good, she would let you help her. Cracking the eggs, crumbling the cornbread, and mixing the green peppers and onions, and other ingredients that go into making it an Epic year ending event.
Driving to the destination was always full of anticipation and you could almost taste everything on your tongue before even arriving. Pulling onto the street, seeing the cars lined up, and all the lights on in the house with figures moving about like a shadow movie. If it was Christmas, you could see the lights from the tree beaming. I remember my heart beating as I saw them glowing through the porch window. Once the car would park, we would bound out, almost unable to wait, and rushing to the door. Busting into the room to screams of "HEEEEEEYYYYYY!!!". It was like walking into the bar on Cheers (sorry, I'm showing my age). Everyone here did know your name, and almost immediately rushes of hugs, kisses and "What have you been up to?" took you in.
Someone helping you take your coat off, and having no idea where it would end up because the coat hanger and closets were already full. It would eventually end up in a bed room some place, and at the end of the night, your hope was to not go home with someone else's coat. After getting settled in on an open corner of the couch, because EVERY SEAT was full, but no one cared. Laps were open and the floor was always an option. As the old saying goes, "You get in where you fit in", kind of thing. As a kid however, you would just be carried away to an open area where cousins were playing, and having a good time. If you happen to be of "marring" age, then you would be interrogated about your life and what you've been up to. Trying to stay away from anything that would implicate something gossip worthy like a new boyfriend or change in jobs.
Snacks were always available, and sitting on the coffee table. Things like nuts and holiday hard candy were in abundance. The kind you would have to crack with your teeth, or if you were lucky, the silver nut cracker that seems like it's been in the family for decades, but always got missed placed in the couch somewhere. In fact, those nuts may have been the same ones from years ago too...but no one cared. The sweet candies seemed to draw all the kids attention. They were always stuck together, and most likely from past holidays, or when your parents where kids, lol. For some reason, they still tasted pretty good, or at least as a kid, the sugar high blocked the fir and bits of unrecognizable dirt that seemed to collect over time.
The main event was not that candy or nut table. In fact, it was the table that was sitting right over in the dinning room. The table that had EVERYTHING you could imagine you would want to eat for a holiday meal. It This was "THE TABLE". The smells that wafted from that room were just amazing. It smelled like childhood, home, granny, safety, and love all in one. It smelled like familiarity, wrapped up in a blanket and saying, "You know you are where you need to be!". It made you feel wanted, it made you feel known and there was no place else you wanted to be, but right there by that table. You knew that if that table was full, that meant everyone was where they were suppose to be. You noticed if something was missing. Everyone's dish mattered and it impacted your soul if you didn't see it. Some how, the meal wasn't complete without it. Perhaps someone was late and on their way, and if you could, you would want to wait for them to arrive. Or if someone was sick and couldn't make it, their dish still needed to be here, or we would feel incomplete. They mattered, and their dish made a difference.
Some one would say a prayer, and then it was time to go in for the kill. The floor would be full of children, couches, piano benches, window seats, you name it, it was made a seat. The chatter of voices and music throughout the house, and my grandmother would be seated in her chair, content. She fussed sometimes, but I could tell she loved seeing all of her children and grandchildren together, happy.
I see my life in Exodus 25:23, when I think of the beauty and power of my grandmothers table. The table is a powerful medium that brings people together. It doesn't always involve food, but sometimes just people seated around playing a game, or perhaps talking about some of the days or weeks events. The tables in our homes have stories to tell. Throughout the world the tables bring life into a home, and create a space that everyone knows is universal and shares the same invitation...and invitation to community and relationship. If that table is on the floor, with a blanket or mat, or has 4 legs, or perhaps even a counter top, it still serves life at every stage for us all.
There are some tough conversations had at tables. Conversations that challenge who we are as a person, calling us to higher ground. Or perhaps a plea to return home from a place of loss and wondering. Conversations that require exchanges of goods and services. Some tables open up and create more space than you thought actually existed, saying "no problem, there is always room". Then there are tables that are made for us, so beautiful and elegant, with shiny utensils, crystal cups, porcelain plates that have such detail and design. You almost don't even want to dirty them, because they just look so perfect. Yet they were made for us to partake and be there in the moment, though we don't always feel like we belong.
The table prepared in the sanctuary resembled the same make as the Ark. It was overlaid with Gold, and it's utensils were also made of fine gold. It would hold the Shewbread, the precious cakes that would be prepared every week, sitting and waiting, as a symbol of the amazing desire that God has to sup with us, daily and His sacrifice to ensure that not one person would be turned away if they wished to be there. He awaits for us with anticipation, just as my grandmother did, for all of her children and grandchildren to gather in her home, around her table. She knew when one was missing, and we all did as well. She would do everything she could to ensure that all those who were suppose to be there, were there. If she knew someone would not be there because they needed a ride, she would send someone out to go and get that person. We were just that important.
God doesn't want anyone of us to be missing. He desires that we all would meet Him at the welcome table. A table so long, and so wide that we can't even see it's reach. Perhaps you feel too late to show up to the festivities, or unworthy to go walk through the door. Perhaps you feel like no one misses you when you aren't there anyway. The truth is, you matter and you are missed and there is a spot at the table for you. This table, God's table, is NEVER TOO full for one more. He makes room and doesn't feel right unless you are there. In fact, He is even willing to give up His seat at the table so that you join the family. Don't put it off, come on in, and have a seat at the WELCOME TABLE...because you are not only missed when you are not there, but you are loved.
John 6:35, "Jesus told them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never become hungry, and whoever believes in me will never become thirsty."(ISV)
Revelation 3:20, "Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me." (ISV)