19: The Welcome Table

November 30, 2012

I once heard it said that the old Story of the Prodigal Son, that boy who wanders off spending his daddys inheritance in wasteful extravagance on wine and women, would be better called the Story of the Prodigal Father, because it is the father who turns out to be truly prodigal, extravagant in his embarrassing welcome, and altogether outrageous in his hospitality to the son who finally return home, this wearied boy who needs a welcome table at which he can sit a while, to be nourished and rested.

In one of those ancient texts from the Hebrew prophets, one I think the church people dont read enough, it is said that the final act of the huan drama was to sit down at a table with the Creator, a table wet with well-aged wine and an altogether fine feast, and that at that feast the Creator would take away the death shroud that is spread over the nations, take away the death-dealing and life-taking, and wipe away the tears, sitting down at home with God. Maybe the country charts are not altogether crazy when the ask what it might be like to sit down and drink a beer with Jesus.

It strikes me as altogether beautiful that the texts of scripture use all sorts of pictures of domesticity and tables and home life to depict the sort of good life for which we were created and two which we shall return: besides the Prodigal Father and the neighborhood party, or the wining and dining of the Creator, there is the longing for a city in which there are streets full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof, and every man shall sit under his own olive tree, and mothers weep no more for calamity that visits their children, and we and God are all at home together.

On such a note, we mourn with our friend Byron House the death of his parents last week, their lives taken by a car accident. Byron has been such a friend to us, and we are saddened with him in his loss. Such grieving reminds us again of the poignant relevance of the joyful domesticity, playful love, and welcome tables for which we long. And we shall seek tokens of such longings tonight.

Permit me last to say how very grateful I am for all the very many good souls that make Tokens possible. This has been one of the most enjoyable life experiments in which I have had the privilege to participate; it is truly an experiment in joy, an adventure in sheer delight. And it is our treat that you are here to enjoy it with us.