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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Breaking the Bread of Belief: Table

The garage door opened early Saturday morning, and the van disappeared down the driveway and around the bend. I was left to an empty house and the cavernous silence. Ryan was taking the children to Chicago for the week so I could work without interruption on a book proposal. By Sunday night, I was falling asleep with thoughts of The Shining: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I am not Thoreau.

An empty house is a thing of reverie for so many mothers. (And I complain?) We spend the lives of our young children wishing that the clamor of rearing them and the never-ending noise of family would play out—at least long enough for us to inspire a long breath of peace.

I have more quiet these days. The children are older. They attend school. Most days, I'm home, keeping company with my thoughts, but sometimes, the solitude isn't nearly as satisfying as I'd imagined.

Maybe for this reason—we are made for the table.



I can't believe the prominence the meal plays in the Scriptures, and I've written enough about my fascination with God playing host, we guest. It will be, I hope, the subject of my next book.

But I wanted to draw your attention here to an article I've recently written for Desiring God that centers the table in the story of God.

"Welcome is a metaphor for Christian salvation, and this is most visible portrayed in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. A wealthy father is affronted by his youngest son who, as if wishing him dead, demands his inheritance in advance of his father’s death. The son splits town, gambles the money on guilty pleasures, and before long, is hungry enough to feed himself from the troughs of the pigs.

Not daring to imagine he’ll be restored as a son yet hoping to be received as a servant, the son returns to the father. The welcome-home is extravagant.

A robe!

A ring!

The fattened calf!

Sparing no expense, the father throws the wildest party the village has ever seen in celebration of his son’s return.

“My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!” (Luke 15:24).

If welcome is so fundamental to the nature of God, hospitality is one practice for growing into our likeness of and desire for him . . . [It] allows us to enter into what God has been doing from the beginning of time: loving humanity by his welcome."

God loved each of us at the table. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus broke bread in the company of friends and of betrayers. They would not outlast the night of his arrest. They would scatter, and Jesus would be left alone.

But the invitation—to the table—would stand.

This is what faith means. It means beginning to believe that you, the betrayer, have no place at the table. Like the Prodigal Son, you're estranged from the Father. But He—the One who from the beginning of time has been keeping house—invites you back. Your meal is paid, and you become an honored guest. There is celebration at your return, of course. But the real honor is reserved for the Host: the guests lift their glasses to Him and remember that His goodness and lovingkindness set—

The table.

* * * * *

Today's post is the final meditation in a series entitled, "Breaking the Bread of Belief." Read about beginning, dust, home, feast, naked, death, altar, stars, and laughter.)

All images courtesy of Joetography.