A Table in the Wilderness - by John Lawrence Gillis


And so the sons of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin. Their memory of the great miracle was still fresh. Less than 50 days earlier they had seen the waters part, and then stand like walls to their left and right. Once ashore, all of Israel believed, at last. "The Lord is our strength and song!"

But now, in the wilderness, the signs and wonders they had come to expect suddenly ceased. Hunger turned their song of praise to grumbling, and much worse -- nostalgia for Egypt. And so, in the words of Psalm 78, "they spoke against God. They said 'Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?'" The Lord Himself, though grieved, answered their distrust with another great miracle: manna, "the bread of Heaven."

Today, the word "wilderness" is no longer feared. Many now devote their lives to protecting it. Nevertheless, the "wilderness" of poverty, despair, and isolation is ever-present, and God asks us to join Him in preparing a table there. He asks us to say grace with strangers and to leave the table as true neighbors. Let us therefore flash tables, in His name! Let our tables flash "Welcome!" to the world -- in homes and halls; parks and penthouse suites; gardens and gazebos; and if we dare, the mean streets. Let our tables nourish hearts, minds and souls as well -- at least three "Eureka!"s per conversation!

And let our tables launch a thousand new friendships.

The Middle East has long been known for its traditions of hospitality, but these traditions did not originate in moral or religious codes. The wilderness of desert and dry bones made the welcoming table a matter of life and death. But for the early church, it was also a matter of eternal life.

The early church was a clear and resonant echo of the Lord's own words. "Come unto us, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and we will give you rest. Join us at the Lord's Table, and in His remembrance, let us break bread together, the bread of Heaven." In times of relentless persecution, the church flourished at the Lord's Table, and their numbers grew daily.

The church was born of the Lord's hospitality.

Of the Lord's hospitality, it is born again...

and our tables become a foretaste of the eternal banquet awaiting all who accept His invitation!