We are in a hopeful time of transition and re-launching at Port Orchard Nazarene Church! Therefore we want to begin communicating a vision that has been steadily growing among us and now emerging through this season of change. It is a vision that reveals who we are as God’s very own Beloved children through a human reality we experience every single day: that of gathering around a family table. We believe this common table is a powerful symbol of the spiritual realm where we are told we belong forever and are presently seated with Christ at His own Table! (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1-3) We would like to reveal some of the beautiful facets that make up the Gospel as seen through the image of His Table.

Two Tables

First, we are invited to gather ourselves physically around tables for food, connection, laughter and fellowship! This resonates deeply with who we were created to be as image-bearers of God’s relationship of love and joy as Father, Son and Spirit! We all long for a place where we can share a meal around the challenges and beauty of life as well as engage in meaningful conversation together.

In addition, we are invited to participate by faith in His life, death and resurrection through the earthly food of bread and wine each week at the table called Communion or the Eucharist. This is a table of His covenant of love in His blood freely given to demonstrate His forgiveness and reconciliation and for us to experience our union with Him! This meal reveals the Truth of who you are: You belong forever to Him and to His family!

The Tables Point to Our Reality in Christ

These two earthly tables are simply symbols of a greater Table and reality that simultaneously exist both in the “heavenlies” and within you! We are told to “set or minds on things above where we are seated with Christ…where our lives are hid with Christ in God.” Astonishingly, your body is also home to this Divine fellowship and is considered to be His favorite dwelling place. The Apostle Paul said, “The mystery revealed is Christ in YOU the hope [assurance] of glory” (Col 1:27). Jesus told the woman at the well that “out of her innermost being would flow rivers of [His] living water”! This reality resides within us as well as “in heaven” at the same time! This dynamic fellowship within you at the Table is like a fractal image, an infinite pattern, of the relationships we find written within all of creation, from atoms to galaxies! (Rom 1:19-20) “The whole earth is filled with His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

Come to the Table of Grace 

You are invited to this beautiful Table, hand crafted by Jesus Himself. You are invited to “draw near in confidence and boldness” as God’s dearly beloved child (Heb 4:16; 1 Jn 3:2). You sense perfect safety. You are greeted here by your Father’s embrace and smile, by your elder Brother who is proud to call you His very own family (Heb 2:11) and your Host who has been anticipating your arrival with the most exquisite Divine hospitality: the table is set, delicious foods lovingly prepared, the wine is poured and the candles lit. Being enveloped in kindness is what they desire for you to experience here. Can you receive it?

The Invitation is Free

You see delicious foods piled high on platters, sparkling wine uncorked and lavish gifts lining the perimeter of the room. You feel overwhelmed by the abundance represented by this Table and the love that flows from the eyes of your Abba who says “Yes” to all of it because all His promises are always “Yes” in Jesus! (2 Cor 1:20)  The gifts, you are told, are “every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph 1). You think about what this means: I am His family and therefore a co-heir with Christ. I am co-crucified, co-raised and now co-ascended with Christ. I was created to receive the same intensity of love from the Father that Jesus experiences from the Father! ( John 15:9; 17:23) These are gifts that though costly, they are given freely in Christ! The invitation always stands: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Delight yourself in the richest of fare…Come to Me that your soul may live the life that is truly life!” (Isaiah 55) Their generosity is contagious.

The Father’s Table is Inclusive

It doesn’t take long to realize that this Table has an unusual guest list. As you look around, you will begin to see folks who were not invited, or you assumed were not invited; it is filled with the outcasts of society and those rejected by certain religious establishments. Your mindset starts to change regarding the width and depth of the Father’s love. You begin to have hope for everybody…even for your enemies. You see it is an ever expanding Table which will include those unlike you and those you do not like …or do not like you. It is no longer just a Table set “in the presence of my enemies,” but, through the lens of Jesus, it is now a Table set for my enemies. His reconciliation of the world is now in you – it is your identity – and it can now flow out of you, even to your enemies!

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19).

Carried to the Table

Are you weary of life? Are you heavy with burdens? Do you feel the weight of the world and of your failures? Sometimes we must be carried to the Table. Like a tender shepherd carrying a wounded lamb, or a compassionate father who sees his little one cannot take another step, the Father carries us in those times when we are out of strength and feel we can’t even raise our heads. “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy with a burden and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).

The Three Cups

On the Table are three cups. Dare you imagine the goodness they contain? After the meal, the Father lifts His cup and toasts to the Son and to the Spirit and then hands it to you and says for you to drink this cup of perfect love and redemption, of new life and wholeness that come straight from His heart. Next, Jesus lifts His cup of joy in suffering and toasts to His Father and to the Spirit and motions for you to drink up the cup of reconciliation in His blood that makes “all things new.” Finally, the Holy Spirit lifts the cup of the Fruit of the Spirit and you are asked to drink in their love, their joy, their peace, their patience, their kindness, their goodness, their gentleness, their faithfulness, and their self-control – which is first of all for you. But this wine is so intoxicatingly beautiful and healing to your soul that you can’t wait to share it! Such is the nature of good news.

Then they all sing together: “We bless you and will always keep you; Our faces shine and smile upon you. You have Our grace and Our peace forever…The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!” (Num 6:22; 2 Cor 13:14). You leave full and satisfied and overflowing with the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus, and the fellowship of the Spirit for your world. But somehow now, you realize they don’t leave you! “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Experiencing the Table – Sharing the Table

So how do we experience this Table where we are told we are already seated and share in the fellowship and love of the Father, Son and Spirit?  Where is this beautiful Table? The amazing simplicity is that it is always yours and always within you and it’s always inviting you 24/7: “The word is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart” (Rom 10:8). “The kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:31. We only need to become aware.

The key to being more aware of this Table is by the “renewing of your mind.” Paul says to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The “spirit” of your mind is simply something you use everyday all day…it is your imagination. You use it to rehearse the past and predict the future and process the present. Some of these images are good but sometimes they are not in alignment with who God truly is and who you are. Learning to renew our imagination or our “mind movies” (as one neuroscientist calls them) is called meditation. We are told to “take every thought [imagination] captive and make it obedient to Christ.” Intentionally creating and meditating on a new “mind movie,” in alignment with who God says we are, will change our brains and thus our lives and the impact we will have on others. Learning to see and live from His Table of grace is a good start to changing the old storyline to a renewed life-giving one!

“We love Him and others to the degree that we first know and experience His love for us” (1 John 4:19).

Being so blessed by the knowledge and experience of our amazing inheritance and place at His Table causes us to be a blessing simply because we can’t help it! As we grow into being a “culture of the Table” we invite you to fill out this vision by sharing your selves and your stories with us at the Table! We intend to continue this vision and conversation, so stay in touch! We have only scratched the surface of the goodness and wonder of His Table of grace. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Join us December 13th, at 6:30 at The Table for a Christmas potluck dinner and celebration!