Sermon Text: Tables
One of my favorite stories begins with the earth being demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
The story begins with the destruction of the earth, and then picks up from there. Weird, huh?
I'm talking about "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Back in the 1960s, there were books on hitchhiking around Europe for $5 a day. Those books inspired an Englishman named Douglas Adams to write "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." It's a combination of science fiction and comedy. And I love it.
The Hitchhiker's Guide is famous, because it has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large, friendly letters on the cover. Don't panic, even if the world is crashing down around you. Don't panic. Good advice, really.
In the story we just heard from Mark's Gospel, the disciples panic. They are in the boat and a storm comes up and Jesus is asleep. They totally freak out and panic. The thing is, Jesus is with them. It turns out okay in the end. God stories always turn out okay in the end.
I hope every member of St. Mark's knows that our unusual altar was inspired by this story from Mark's Gospel. The altar is shaped like a boat, and you can see Jesus sleeping.
When you look closely, you can see the disciples panicking. They have obviously not heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I just want to tell them, Don't panic!
This altar was created from cherry and oak that Sister Paula of the Transfiguration religious community in Windsor found and carved. It is striking and beautiful, and people who visit us often comment on it to me. It's pretty fancy.
But it's actually something very simple: a table. Every altar is a table for a meal, a meal of bread and wine.
Now, think about tables. You and I have eaten at a lot of tables. We share a meal of bread and wine here at this table Sunday by Sunday. It's a meal in honor of Jesus. And it's a meal to remind us that every meal is sacred. All food is holy.
Sharing a meal is a holy and human activity. Sometimes we don't pay enough attention to our meals together. Eating together is not just for fueling our bodies. Eating together is about community and sharing and love.
Think about the tables you've sat around.
The table my wife and I sit around in our home is one she found out near Chicago the second year we were married. She found it at a garage sale -- a hundred bucks for an expandable wooden table and six chairs. She stripped it and refinished it, and we raised our family around it. We have had people in our home to eat on it -- family members and friends sharing food, talk, and camaraderie. That table gets more sacred every year.
What is the table like in your home? What tables have been holy spaces for sacred meals in your life? Can you remember? Can you think about them? Can you be thankful?
An altar, like ours here at St. Mark's, is a table. A table is for a meal. A meal is for community. Every meal is sacred. All food is holy.
And one of the best words in our language is the word "companion." It comes from the Latin "cum panis", or "with bread." A companion is someone with whom you share your bread.
Thank you for being my companions. Thank you for sharing this meal with me on Sundays. Thank you for being a community of companions.
An altar is a table.
A table is for a meal.
A meal is for community.
And a community is for companions.
Every meal is sacred.
All food is holy.
All creation is connected to us, and we are connected to all creation.
So we are thankful.
And that's what the word "Eucharist" means: "thank you."