Lent Week 6 – Acceptance

Every week during lent we will be posting a short devotional thought which we hope you will find a blessing.

Invited to dine

‘Jesus took some bread in his hands and gave thanks for it. He broke the bread and handed it to his apostles. Then he said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this as a way of remembering me!” After the meal he took another cup of wine in his hands. Then he said, “This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement.’ Luke 22:19-20

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper is well known. It’s a mural – painted directly onto a wall. The twelve disciples are all grouped around Jesus on the far side of the table and down to the ends. The near side, nearest the spectator, is empty.

It’s a convention that’s used a lot on stage and in films. The side of any table nearest the viewer is left empty, so that nothing is obscured. You can see the faces of everyone involved in the drama. There are no shoulders to look over.

I believe there’s another reason too. The viewer takes his place at the table, not just as a spectator, but as a participant. We share in the drama, there’s a place at the table for us. That’s what makes it real. So, too, with the painting. A great work of art, truly, but rather more. It was painted on the end wall of a refectory – the dining room – of a monastery. When the monks sat down to eat, their tables were a continuation of the table on the wall. They were dining with Jesus. Every meal was with him.

“This is my body, broken for you,” said Jesus. Not just for the original twelve gathered around, but for all of us willing to take our place at the table.

We share in the reality, not simply gaze at an interpretation. The host at the table invites us to join him, asks for our involvement.

Eddie Askew Extract – ‘Breaking the Rules.’

Lord, I hardly dare accept
the invitation.
I want to sit with you,
to hear your words,

to share the meal.
To stretch across the table,
take the bread and wine
straight from your hands.
I want to join the others
grouped around you.

But something makes me hesitate,
hold back,
and wonder at the worth you place on me.
That you, God’s son,
whatever that may really mean,
the mystery’s too deep for me,
should hold an open house
for ordinary folk.

Offering your body, coarse ground
between the millstones of rejection.
Your blood, trod out
beneath shod feet
which trample, unconcerned,
on holiness.

I’d settle for much less, Lord,
some slight acknowledgement,
in passing, that you care,
but not the lengths to which you go
to show your love.

And yet, why should I be content
to live on crumbs
from underneath the table,
when I can see
your love’s already set a place
across the board,
and put my name on it?
And as I start to realise
the riches that you offer,
I daren’t do other than accept.

And as I take my seat,
wondering just what to say or do,
I understand I’m not a transitory guest,
my welcome soon outlived,
but one of the family.
My place secure, my presence welcomed.

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5th Apr 2017

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