In Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis, he asks a rather thought-provoking question. What did Jesus do almost as much as He taught and healed? Can you come up with the answer? Jesus eats long meals. He spends time around the table with people.
Then Bell asks another question. What ritual did the early Christians observe the most frequently? I'll bet you've got the answer to this one. The Lord's Supper. What did the meal consist of? Now, before I give you the answer, allow me to review a few things with you.
When you are part of a Seder Meal in your church, you re-live the Passover Meal. You eat what has been observed since the days of the Israelites in Egypt. You learn the meaning behind what you are eating. Have you noticed that there is usually an air of excitement? I remember being invited to share the Passover Meal at a Jewish synagogue many years ago. The thing that sticks in my mind the most was the anticipation, excitement, and hospitality of that group of people.
Now, what did the meal that Jesus ate with His disciples consist of? What does the same meal today consist of? Here's the answer: Hours of talking, sharing, and enjoying each other's presence. Rob Bell would say that the table is seen as an altar. It is holy. Time spent around the table with each other is time spent with God. It is a gift.
Sometime around 30 years ago, Patti and I began spending New Year's Eve with the Sawyer family in Mobile, Alabama. We would go over to the Sawyer home about 8:00 P.M. and sometimes we didn't get back to Patti's parents home until after 2:00 A.M. It was an evening of just being with each other, playing games, bringing in the new year, and having so much fun that we didn't want to stop even at 2:00 A.M.
As our children grew older and made new friends, they were invited too. We watched young people come and go during the years. We watched our own children mature, change, and take on new frontiers in life. Yet, the family dynamic between the Mathews and the Sawyers remained the same. This went on over a four decade period until life changes kept us all from being home on New Year's Eve.
The Sawyers will always be special to us. They are a gift from God. I taught Sunday School with Norvelle (the dad) in the same department back in the early 70's. We saw he and his wife when we were home at Christmas, but we couldn't stay around until New Year's Eve. I've heard from both daughters in the past 24 hours. I will never forget the time our families spent together and what that has meant to us over the years. Sometimes I fell asleep on the floor during some of those late games, but my family would say that I felt comfortable enough to do that with them. That time, over the years, with the Sawyers, will go down as some of the happiest times of my life.
Today, my family is having some of those special times in our home. One of these days we may invite others to join us. Who knows? But, history is repeating itself, but I learned to enjoy good friends at the Sawyers home. Maybe we can give someone that same chance here.
Rob Bell said, "Relax. Slow down. Quit having a purpose for everything. Eat more slowly and enjoy it more. Ask people how they are doing and mean it. Take more walks. You will get more done anyway."