This service is titled, “Welcome to the Table.” It has a huge resonance and great meaning in so many respects. Of course it means things such as home, family, holiday, community, togetherness. And also sometimes where we are alone. It is the place of food, sometimes work, abundance, prosperity. And it’s always where we sit, not stand. It’s where we share and give and also receive. It’s where we can celebrate. It’s where we can be. It’s where we can find nourishment. It’s a place where all of us, ALL of us are welcomed.
John Pavlovitz Reading:
What struck me when I began to read the Gospel stories was Jesus’ table
ministry, the way he so often used the act of sharing a meal, the act of breaking bread, as a way of letting people know that they were seen and heard and known and respected….The table was an altar around which he welcomed the world to experience communion with God and with one another.
The cloths of Heaven by W.B. Yeats
“Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
From the Koran (Surah 5)
Allah guides those who follow his ways of peace
And he brings them out from darkness into light
And guides them to a straight path.”
Inside the vase, put in it what you want.
It is the holding container of who you are.
From the writer Maya Angelou
Engage in it.
Give it all you’ve got!
Love it with a passion,
because Life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”
We are the vessel, ready to receive, full of power and potential when we are open.
From the mystic OSHO
The usefulness of the cup is its emptiness.
We set the spoon to the south, bringing in the elemental energy of fire. This heat, this life force, celebrates the return of the Sun, and nature’s renewal.
The fork is our freedom to choose.
From The Book of Deuteronomy:
“I have set before you, life and death, blessing and curse.
that you, and all your descendants, may prosper
and live in abundance.”
Flowers, the art work of God.
In the words of the Buddha
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
Our whole life would change.”
The Japanese word Kintsugi expresses the way of seeing beauty in fractures. Breakage is part of the history of a bowl, and not something to disguise. Wabi sabi means that we embrace our imperfections and use our past wounds to make us stronger.
In the words of Ernest Hemingway:
“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong in the broken places.”
Salt is the preservative that neither spoils nor decays. A sign of the Hebrew God’s eternal covenant with His people.
from the Jewish Sabbath blessing
“For the Lord your God is bringing you to a good land, a land with brooks of water, fountains and depths, that emerge in valleys and mountains…a land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates…and you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless the Lord your God for all that he has given you.”
From the Buddhist tradition
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.
When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
In the words of Pope Francis
As well as physical hunger, man also suffers from another hunger which cannot be sated with food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity…the substance of this bread is love.”
From the words of Chuang Tzu
Flow with whatever may happen,
And let your mind be free.
Stay centred by accepting whatever you are doing.
This is the ultimate way.
In the words of Said Nursi
All true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties, and untroubled pleasure,
Lie in the knowledge of God and in the love of God;
They cannot exist without them.
We lay the napkin on our lap.
From the words of the Psalmist
“Lord, my heart is meek before you.
I don’t consider myself better than others…
I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap.
I am your resting child, and my soul is content in you.
From the poet Mary Oliver
Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
From the words of St Patrick
God with me
God before me
God behind me
God in me
God beneath me
God above me
God on my right
God on my left
God when I lie down
God when I sit down
God when I arise
God in the heart of every man who thinks of me
God in the mouth of everyman who speaks of me
God in every eye that sees me
God in every ear that hears me
The receiver of spirit.
From the Bhagavad Gita
Just remember that I am,
And that I support the entire cosmos
With only a fragment of my being.
The plate is a symbol of offering.
From Pushpa Rana – God’s offerings to us:
“Insatiable is my desire for you.
Insane is my love for you.
Limitless are my boundaries for you.
True are my feelings for you.
Wildest are my imaginations for you.
Intense is my passion for you.
Soul is my offering for you.
Commitment is my promise to you.”
From the Sufi poet Rumi
The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling…
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when, through my passion, you reach perfection,
You will never be done praising my name.
The knife is the nuance of the spiritual journey.
From the Tao Te Ching – verse 6
“The gateway to the mysterious female is called the root of creation.
Listen to her voice. Hear it echo throughout creation.
Without fail, she reveals her presence.
Without fail, she brings us to our perfection.”