TURNING THE TABLES:
Tables are important places. Around tables we eat together. We work on tables. Over tables plans are hatched, decisions are made. From tables, there is little doubt, wars have been waged. And there is a good chance that it was upon tables that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote about the life and teachings of Jesus, in the form of the four gospels.
Tables crop up quite a lot in the gospels. Eating, more than anything else, seems to be what Jesus did at tables - with all sorts of folk: religious leaders, tax collectors, friends. Around a table Jesus observed the Passover with his disciples, when he proclaimed of the bread and wine, ‘this is my body’ and ‘this is my blood’. In the parable of the Great Banquet, the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame are called to join.
In a photo that has become almost iconic, an Occupy protestor—dressed as Jesus—holds a placard that claims ‘I threw out the moneylenders for a reason.’ The gospels talk of Jesus driving out traders from the temple, overturning the tables of money-changers and those who sold doves, and not allowing anybody to pass through. ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?’ Jesus asks. “’But you have made it a den of robbers.’” The Occupy protestor, most likely, saw Jesus’ overturning of the tables in the temple as a symbolic action against the corrupt ‘bankers’ of his day. How do you understand Jesus’ actions in the temple?
At Soundcheck this year, tables mean a few things for us. Firstly, as we grow the Seeding Change campaign, working for food justice, we think about the food that we eat at the table: where it comes from, who grew it, how it was grown. Secondly, we consider what Jesus’ overturning of the tables in the temple might mean for us today—what tables might we, as the body of Christ, be called to overturn? Thirdly, there is the ‘offering’ table: what can you bring to the table as we pray and campaign together for justice? What skills, ideas, or dreams do you have to share with the network?