Devotional for the week of August 28, 2022

The Round-Table Ethic

Jesus teaches his followers that social norms and expectations no longer apply in the dinner parties he offers. Tradition in Jesus’ time said that the honorable sat in places of esteem at a dinner. The lowly were crowded down at the other end. This form of sharing a meal reinforced the social patterns of giving honor to the wealthy and powerful and shaming those who were poor and outcast. Jesus will have none of this.

The legends of King Arthur say he gathered the knights of the kingdom at a round table. A round table has no head seat of honor and therefore no lowly seat of shame. Arthur did this to help preserve peace in the kingdom. He brought together knights from many regions speaking different languages. Some of them were former enemies now reconciled. Some came to Great Britain from as far away as Africa and the Middle East. The round table created a space of equality. This equality supported peace and reconciliation.

Jesus critiques the social norms of his day and ours. He instructs his followers to host dinner parties that honor those dishonored in the community and that humble those who are privileged. The spirit of his teaching is similar to Arthur’s round table: when we gather people together, we do so with a deep sense of equality among persons. In the church, this equality is rooted in God’s grace that welcomes all to the table.

One of the most profound ways the church witnesses to and enacts the gospel is to gather around dinner tables, sacred tables, public and private tables, giving everyone a place of honor. Sometimes this means simply including those who have been excluded. Sometimes it means giving voice to those usually silenced. Always it means generously feeding and nourishing bodies and minds in the name of Christ. It is a gift to be a community that enjoys fellowship at the round table of Christ.

Devotional message and art based on the readings for August 21st, 2022 reprinted from
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