From Tablet to Table

I don't think there is any author who resonates more with me than Leonard Sweet. And his latest book, From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is Formed, is the latest example.

He makes a biblical, theological, liturgical, and practical case for bringing back the table to our homes, churches, and neighborhoods. In the first section of the book, titled "Table It," Sweet compellingly shows the importance of the table in Jesus' ministry and in the history of the church, and contrasts it with our contemporary fast-food, microwaved, shallow, and distracted lives. The book's second section, "Life's Three Tables," focuses on the table's function in the home, the church, and the world. It read so well and so quickly that I was surprised and disappointed when it came to an end.

Some of the high points of the book--and there were far too many to mention them all:
Modern Christianity has become more “modern” than Christian, having sold out to a fast-paced, word-based, verse-backed, principles-driven template for truth, a handy little tablet of rules and regulations.

The Pharisees lived by laws, rules, and exclusions. Jesus showed us how to live by love, grace, and inclusion.

There is a reason Jesus made eating a sacrament.

The first word God speaks to human beings in the Bible—God’s very first commandment—is “Eat freely” (Genesis 2:16, NASB). The last words out of God’s mouth in the Bible—his final command? “Drink freely” (see Revelation 22:17).

When we all speak the same language, fewer words are necessary. When we don’t speak the same language, more words are required. One of the reasons for the “wordiness” of the church at this point in its history is that we no longer speak the vernacular of the culture.

As a Jew is bar mitzvahed or bat mitzvahed, so a Christian might be thought of as bar or bat messiahed.

We are to manifest Christ, not just mimic him. We are to be not imitators but incarnators of Christ.

Adam means “human.” Eve means “life.” A human needs another for “life” to come alive and become living. Identity can’t grow ferally, only communally. We were meant to eat together, not solo. Eve’s solitary eating is what got her in trouble.

most theologians ask too much of the table in terms of theology and too little of the table in terms of community.

We don’t love our neighbors merely by not bothering them or by doing nothing bad to them. We love our neighbors when we reach out to them, when we listen to them, when we “give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16). We love our neighbors when we share a table with them, when we bless and break bread together. Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to going to a party where you don’t have to prepare the food or clean up afterward. If that’s how Jesus pictured the kingdom of heaven, shouldn’t that be the image we show to the world? The firstfruits of the future, the earnest of eternity, the foretaste of what heaven is going to be like, is found where? For Jesus, at the table.
As with all of Leonard Sweet's books, I can't recommend this highly enough. It is a book to be savored and digested.

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