Eating a meal with a friend has depths to it we can only sense, like looking down into a deep lake, seeing the deeps but not the bottom. When we eat with a friend, we’ve offered an invitation he has accepted, a mutual assessment of time well spent. When we share table fellowship with someone, we give him even more than our time, we give our attention, the focused concentration on his concerns and life. Eating a meal with another is not just the inviting and the investing, but it’s also giving back some of our thoughts and stories in reciprocity. In the meal, over the table, in a restaurant, or a home, we simulate with another what we most often do with our family, eating together as a way of life. The most casual of meals harbors a secret sobriety.
But there is another table in our lives as Christians. Each week we worship God and then join with him at his table in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Our participation in that meal, at that table, reminds us of the high price Jesus paid, his life, to redeem us from our sin. We come to that table as former slaves, enemies, and orphans, brought near through Christ to be stewards, friends of God and adopted children. In the table, the Lord speaks welcome and invites worship, whispers love and insists his mercy. He provides an appetizer in that sacrament of what is to come in the new heavens and the new earth, marked by the great wedding feast of the Lamb.
Christian missiology is our attempt to link these two tables. We eat with folks who are not yet Christians, inviting them into our lives as we dine with them at the table. We share of ourselves and share the gospel of our Lord as we encourage them to share their stories and reluctances to believe in a Jesus who died and rose again. It is our hope and labor, at each breakfast, lunch, and dinner with those who stand afar off from the promises of God, that God himself might show up with us and cause our friend to be born again. And so, in time, we might share these two tables with as many as we can. Sharing first these temporary passing meals of life but when the Lord works and saves, also sharing the second meal with our new brothers and sisters in Christ.
The best meals are seasoned with missions, served at one table in the hopes the next meal might be together at the Lord’s table.