Table Matters

(Note: One of manifold reflections on years upon years of ordained ministry)


The table spread with bread and wine;
the invitation, to those present, given: “Come, partake.”
Yet, he knows, scanning the sacred space,
shadowy, largely (skeletal) rid of flesh,
that others (many?) desire not this feast;
they, counting chronos as the chiefest measure of all matters,
who sit at smorgasbord ingesting life’s delights,
that he, by the truth-telling of his self-confessing,
from time to time, would wish to have and to hold…

But that is not –
yea, ne’er hath been –
his calling
nor his wanting.

Nay, his cherished summons is,
by trusting orisons,
to invite, again and again,
as Guest the One Who alway is the Host
to come
(to continue in a kairos-moment
His eternal kenosis
for us)
to bring that ancient room to now,
to bless
(with hands, feet, and side scarred, marred by blood),
to break the Bread, to pour the Cup,
to be the Feast for all who feast
to bear His Name in this world.(1)


(1) A reflection on the hymn, Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest; words by George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959)

Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest;
nay, let us be thy guests; the feast is thine;
thyself at thine own board make manifest
in thine own Sacrament of Bread and Wine.

We meet, as in that upper room they met;
thou at the table, blessing, yet dost stand:
“This is my Body”; so thou givest yet:
faith still receives the cup as from thy hand.

One body, we, one Body who partake,
one Church united in communion blest;
one Name we bear, one Bread of life we break,
with all thy saints on earth and saints at rest.

One with each other, Lord, for one in thee,
who art one Savior and one living Head;
then open thou our eyes, that we may see;
be known to us in breaking of the Bread.

3 thoughts on “Table Matters

  1. So Paul…Thank you and Pontheolla for all of the Table Matters you’ve extended to me over the last two days. Whenever I come to Clevedale, the table is FULL…. Full of bread, and wine, and meat and soup. As I watched you make the fritatta for us on Monday morning with such care, and then served it to us, It was a “communion” moment for me. I’ve served at the altar with you many times, partaking of the bread and wine with you… our meals together on this trip have felt so much like being at God’s table with you again … that’s what Clevedale means to me.

    More even than the food, the fellowship and conversation around the Table has been key for me this trip. Sometimes the conversation reminds me that I’m in church or a spiritual place where all words uttered are spiritual… THEN, quickly the conversations switch to anything BUT spiritual… where there is freedom to yell and curse and complain, but all done in love. “Truthtelling and Self-confessing” is a great way to describe this visit. I believe we have shared what Jesus would want us to …. Welcoming HIM into our conversations and allowing HIM to bathe us in his love through food and drink. Table Matters were so important to me this trip because I am reminded of how often I eat alone. But then again, I’ve also realized that thanks to the “table” I’m never really alone.

    Thanks for being such great hosts!! Much love to you both!!


  2. Thank you, Loretta, for your kind words and response to our hosting you (surely, our joy!). And, in your kindness, I reply, writing that during Pontheolla’s and my sabbatical, now over 10 years ago, and especially on our South Africa leg of our journey, one deeply embedded and abiding thing we learned from our Xhosa and Zulu sisters and brothers is that hospitality is inherently mutual; involving, yes, what the host offers the guest, yet also a matter of the guest appearing. Therefore, Pontheolla and I thank you showing and sharing your hospitality in coming to Clevedale.

    Thank you, too, for your beautiful meditation/reflection on the table and sacred time.

    Love you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. YES indeed I remember that story of the hospitality you received and gave in South Africa!!!! Hospitality truly is mutual!!!

    Love you back!!


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