The Dream of the Table
(This post is a compilation of a sermon given and an article written in the past. I feel like the idea of “The Dream of the Table” is one that I first read somewhere else, but I can’t seem to locate it at this time. Perhaps there is a song with this title? At any rate, the sentiment expressed is worth remembering at this time–or any time–of the year.)
The Dream of the Table
Today, a dream will be lived out across this great country.
There is a gigantic table, with countless people sitting at it and eating together: women and men, children and adults, healthy and frail, poor and rich. An investment banker from New York is seated next to a truck stop waitress from Montana. An Iowa farmer exchanges stories with a New England fisherman. A bearded professor from Berkeley passes the gravy to an auto mechanic from Arkansas. A young soldier laughs at a joke an elderly lady tells him.
We dream this dream for a single afternoon each year as we gather around the Thanksgiving Day table. For it seems then that our entire nation offers a single prayer and sits down to a single meal. Thanksgiving is the most universally celebrated holiday in our country. The dinner is shared in the homes of the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor. It takes place in soup kitchens and suburban restaurants. It happens with choreographed formality and with casual folksiness. It feels as though all our people eat together today.
The sad thing is that Thanksgiving Day is but one day, and the rest of the year seems different, somehow. The dream remains a dream. The world does not normally appear as a dinner where all people share, all people feast and all people give thanks. The rest of the year, not all share, for some have plenty and some have none. Not all feast, for some throw food out and others die from hunger. Not all give thanks, for some cannot see past their wealth and others cannot see past their poverty. The dream remains a dream. It seems insubstantial. And so, on Thanksgiving Day we seek consolation in yet another helping or in too long a time spent in front of the television.
Our dream of the table is not realized year-round because we stake our claim on the promises of the world rather than on the promises of God.
The world tells us there will never be enough, and we must grab all we can. God promises abundance and calls us to share all we can.
The world tells us we are entitled to whatever it is we want. God assures us that what we have are blessings from God.
The world tells us life is a burden. God grants life as a gift.
The world tells us to trust people who are part of the established order. Jesus reached out to those who lived on the fringes.
The more to what is ours, we take more than we give and put our trust in those who are not God, the more we find ourselves anxious and alone and far, far away from the table.
Thanksgiving is here. Once again, we experience that elusive dream of a welcome table where all people share and feast and give thanks. Maybe this year, we can make the dream a reality.