Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed.
Table prayer around our kitchen table on the farm is one of my earliest family memories. My husband and I have maintained that habit—giving thanks before each meal, whether it is a feast or a nibble, in our own home or in public. Sadly, this prayer is so familiar to me I do not often tend to the words. Until today.
On Sunday we join Jesus and his Mother at a wedding in Cana. (John 2.1-11) I’m guessing they were not among the honored guests—seated not at the head table but somewhere near the swinging kitchen door where shirttail relatives and casual friends are hidden. How do I know this? Jesus’ mother could see the servants scrambling to make the wine last—they were running out and the party was far from over. In a terse exchange with Jesus, she brought the shortfall to his attention, expecting him to do something about it. Do something? Like what? Call Binney’s for delivery? Grab a glass before it was all gone?
Jesus’ response to her persistence was to magically produce gallons and gallons of remarkable wine from tap water. And to take no credit for it. The last exchange in the story is between the sommelier and the groom—each of whom was amazed at his own good taste.
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.
I wonder now, upon reflection on this text, if that’s really what we want. Do we want Jesus at our tables? All of Jesus’ table fellowship, as recorded in the gospels, is eventful. He eats with notorious sinners. He multiplies a little boy’s lunch. He makes wine. Unexpected guests burst in. He picks an argument with his host. A trusted friend betrays him. If the gospel writers are to be believed, dinner with Jesus was a contact sport with winners and losers. Do we really want Jesus to join us at our tables? What if he were to bring his sketchy friends? Or his pushy mother? Or tell us what he really thinks?
We are in the season of Epiphany—a season of “revealing.” On Sunday, Jesus is revealed as Miracle Worker, Wine Maker, Obedient Son, Enigma. And as a ferocious “Plus 1” at a wedding reception. Come, Lord Jesus?
Two other things are on my mind, as well.
I continue to worry and pray over the Budget Impasse in Washington, D.C. and its tsunami-level ripples into all our lives. I have contacted my congress people. I have encouraged our presiding bishop to step into the fray. I have made an extra donation at my local food pantry. But all of these are stop gaps. I don’t know what the resolution ought to be, but I know that innocent people are suffering because of someone else’s fight. Please join me in advocating for our government employees who simply want to go back to work. And be paid for it.
I was given a Prayer Shawl when I was called to my last parish in Connecticut; it is draped over a chair in my office where I see it every day. The shawl was knitted for me from remnants of all the other prayer shawls that group had created—for baptisms, weddings, funerals, illnesses. With that downy-soft, many-colored, multi-textured gift they enveloped me in their lives, their moments of joy and sorrow. They also wanted me to know that all the events in my life were woven into their prayers. On Sunday we will dedicate baskets full of Prayer Shawls knitted and crocheted by Ascension’s nimble craftspeople. We will invite you to take one home for yourself or for someone who might welcome a warm prayer around their shoulders.
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.
In addition to that familiar prayer, I remember a plaque that hung on our kitchen wall—a gift to my parents when they married: “Jesus: the Silent Guest at every Meal.” Apparently, whether we prayed for Jesus’ presence or not, my Mom and Dad believed Jesus was already there. And his presence—bidden or unbidden—was a daily gift and comfort. I fear I never thanked my parents for creating a home, setting a table, where Jesus would always have a place.
Please join us Sunday. I promise you, Jesus will be present. I hope you will be, too.
Pastor JoAnn Post