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My husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary last year. For the entire 40 years, almost 41 now, we have had the same kitchen table. The table itself is special to us. It was rescued from my in-laws’ attic during our engagement. At the time of rescue, it was in bad shape—falling apart, bowed from the attic heat and dirty with years of dust. My dad took the table, glued it back together and refinished it. It went with us to our first apartment and has followed us to each house we’ve lived in ever since. Over the years, we added three handmade leaves to help make space for our growing family.

We have a lifetime of memories around this table. It’s been the place we share food, play games and work. In fact, I am sitting at the table as I write this article. There has been much laughter around the table along with serious discussions and occasionally tears. A few times the table has been highly decorated with a tablecloth and wedding china, but most of the time it holds placemats and everyday dishes. Paper plates and cups have also had their moment at the table.

There have been prolonged Thanksgiving feasts with extended family and fast-food meals eaten in a hurry. We’ve had babies in high chairs and great-grandparents grace the table. There have been pastors and seminary presidents, neighbors and friends, basketball teams and birthday parties around the table. I found out that I was going to be a grandmother while sitting at the table. So far five generations of our family have sat at this table.

If you could see the table today, you might wonder why I don’t get a new one. It’s been refinished by my dad twice since the original refinishing and currently needs it again. There are places where the raw wood is showing through along with signs of stray markers and paint.

Although there is no life nor sacredness in the table itself, it has been a place of divine doings in the life of our family. Whereas it might seem the only purpose of a table is to provide a place to sit while eating meals, we know there is much more to it than that. For sure it’s a place to be filled with good food, but it’s also where connections are made and relationships are deepened. Guests can be welcomed with love and nurtured in order to grow emotionally and spiritually.

Consider that Jesus often graced the tables of those he wanted to reach with the gospel. He sat at the tables of Matthew, Zacchaeus, Mary and Martha in order to share his life-giving message. He knew the power of the table to connect in the deep places of life. Before his death on the cross, Jesus gathered his disciples around his table to express his love for them. The book of Revelation further attests to the significance of the table as our Lord acknowledges the blessedness of those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Imagine the festive scene of tables resplendent with family, food and drink. Such blessings enjoyed now as we gather around our tables during the holiday season are a foretaste of what is to come.

I understand that not everyone has this picture of home. F.B. Meyer said it this way: “Let the home harmonies be keyed to those of heaven. And if there are the empty chairs, the vacant seats, the sad memories of vanished hands and silenced voices, look away to that great home festival in the many mansions of the Father’s house, where the severed shall reunite, and the circles be complete and from horizon to horizon shall be only love and peace and joy.”

God has welcomed us to his table though we have no right to be there. None of us has a place at the table until we make our home in Christ. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we have access to God’s table. Christ came to us so that we might one day go to him. Christ came to our table so that we might go to his. We welcome others to our table as Christ has welcomed us. It is a picture of blessing, joy of family, provision and bounty. A place of grace. A place of belonging. Home.

A table of grace is set before you. Will you come?

Come to the table

Come join the sinners who have been redeemed

Take your place beside the Savior

Sit down and be set free

Come to the table

-lyrics by Sidewalk Prophets

Advent Resource List for Celebrating the Holidays