Communion Thoughts: Come In

JD and I shared a few words at the Table this past Sunday.  I’ve been inspired by my recent reading of Mary Oliver’s collection of poetry, Thirst.  Here’s what we shared.

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How do we prepare ourselves for the Table? Churches around the world have rituals that intend to focus our hearts to encounter Jesus each week: meditation, prayer, Scripture reading, a song, two people sharing a few words before the bread. Most of these rituals have a holy shimmer, and we hold our breath wondering what Jesus will say to us at the Table, what we will say to Him.

Mary Oliver, one of our great modern-day poets, wrote of preparing ourselves in a poem called “Making the House Ready for the Lord”. She writes:

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice:  it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances, but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

Oliver illustrates that the way we prepare for meeting Jesus at the Table is to invite and welcome everyone as we get ready:
• The mouse, the squeaky creature who gets under our feet and under our skin
• The squirrel, the great taunter of our dogs and carrier of diseases
• The raccoon, the dirty and vicious creature who fights out of self-protection and fear
• And the fox, the great trickster seeking to stay alive for one more meal

Even the pests are welcome, perhaps especially the pests because the language of the Table is not “Invitation only, you’re late, sit up straight, get cleaned up, don’t talk about politics or religion, be seen and not heard.” Rather, the simple words of the Table are “Come in.” By saying those words to the mouse, to the squirrel, to the raccoon, to the fox all week long, we say them to Jesus this morning, and He in turn says to us, “Come in.”

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