The table I set for Easter looks different than the table I set at any other time of the year. My table sometimes has flowers; it sometimes has candles. At Christmastime it has an Advent wreath, and at Thanksgiving it boasts a ceramic turkey. But Easter is the only time it has a cross.
I must confess I did not set this particular table. It was beautifully done by a beloved family friend and mentor at my in-laws’ table in Brenham, Texas.
But her table, and my table at home, got me thinking: shouldn’t our tables, no matter the season, no matter the meal, always be set with the cross at the center?
As we serve our plates, shouldn’t we also be serving up grace to those who sit in our chairs? As we unfold our napkins, shouldn’t we also be unfolding mercy and tucking in compassion, particularly to those in our seats who are suffering?
As we pick up our forks, shouldn’t we also be picking up patience, ready to have it at our lips in responses to those around us? As we fill our stomachs with food, shouldn’t we fill our hearts with love – love that does not seek its own but leaves the confines of our own schedules, our own emotions, our own weariness, our own inconveniences and seeks to shoulder the burdens and minister to the wounds and weariness of those around us?
Perhaps it just means listening as opposed to talking. Or talking instead of sulking. Perhaps it means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes instead of judging. Or giving grace instead of nitpicking.
But if we are Easter People, then at the center of every table, Easter weekend or not, should be the Cross.
Joanne Thompson in her excellent book Tablelife says it best: “Jesus isn’t at risk of catching the disease of sin because He eats with sinners; sinners are at risk of being drawn to grace by eating with Jesus.”
Are those at your table drawn to grace because the cross is at the center of your table, your meal, your heart, and your lips? And have you invited those who do not Jesus to regularly sit at your table? Those who need the risk of exposure to a grace-filled God?
Hear me loud and clear: when it comes to sinners at the table, I am chief. I have been known to tell my children to stop touching me at the table when they desperately needed a touch. I have selfishly told my children to be quiet and keep their stories to myself so I could have a moment’s peace. I have kept the placemats at my table tight, only five, when others have desperately needed to be let in.
Setting a cross-centered table is one of the most difficult parts of my day. And just because I did it well yesterday doesn’t give me the day off today. It is a daily death, a day in and day out, year in and year out, act of surrender.
But today. Today. Today I choose to take up my cross, and follow Jesus, and make Him the center. Of my table. My conversations. My meals. My servings. My heart. Why? Because the people around me, starting with the four whose lives I have been entrusted to serve, need grace from me that points them to Grace from Jesus. And it all begins with having an Easter table with the cross at the center and a heart that is willing to serve. On Easter Sunday or Monday morning or Wednesday night.
As Easter People, join me this year in daring to have an Easter Table.