Table Matters: From Our Tables to the King’s Table

In years past, our family has hosted a brunch on Easter Sunday for friends from church who do not have family in town. Some years we’ve had a full house with kids spilling out in the yard on picnic blankets; other years we’ve welcomed a smaller crowd that fit around our dining table. It has become one of our favorite traditions. 

Last year, my husband broke his leg in a climbing accident. The break was so bad that we decided to send our kids to spend a few days with their aunt and uncle while we wrapped our heads around what the next several months would look like for our family. 

Our Easter brunch was cancelled. I was upset about the empty house and empty table, full of self-pity at the turn of events. We were sad about what the months ahead would look like for my husband and all the things he would miss, including a family vacation to London. And then one of our regular Easter brunch attenders showed up with a meal for us. My husband and I sat at our table together and we began to “reimagine” (a word a mentor gave us) the spring and summer.     

Our Tables

Tables have been places of both grief and hope for me. My parents died before my children were born, and, therefore, my kids will never sit at a table and share a meal with my parents. This is a place of grief. Yet, after each of my parents’ deaths, I was welcomed around many tables, to sit and eat and heal among friends and family. Now I have my own table, fashioned from a church pew by a church member who is a skilled carpenter, fitted to our dining room by my husband, and filled last Sunday with four young girls who joined our church as communing members. These are places of great joy and hope!

Tables appear in Scripture in various ways, often in times of grief and hope. In the well-known Psalm 23, David gives us the picture of God preparing a table for us (hope), but in the presence of enemies (grief). In the gospels, when Jesus enters the temple, he overturns the tables of the money changers (grief), restoring the temple to a place of prayer (hope). Lastly, during one of Jesus’ last moments with his apostles, we are filled with hope as we see him at the table with his friends, feeding them with bread and wine and words of encouragement (Luke 22). But in this same passage and at this same table we are grieved to discover one of his friends will betray him and to witness the disciples arguing with each other (Luke 22:21; 24). 

Maybe you can relate to the contrast of grief and hope at your own table. Empty nesters may grieve the now empty seats at their table but rejoice in hearing about the new friends their young adult children are eating with in campus dining halls. A middle schooler may be anxious at her new school, unsure of where she should sit in the school cafeteria, or lunch period may be the favorite part of the day for the senior in his last semester. Marriages, births, and adoptions tend to joyfully fill chairs, while divorce and death empty chairs at our tables.

The King’s Table

My favorite table in the Bible is David’s table in 2 Samuel 9. In this story we find out that Mephibosheth is an orphaned child and lame in both his feet (grief); yet he has been invited to King David’s table to eat (hope). Mephibosheth is David’s friend Jonathan’s son (hope), but he is also David’s enemy Saul’s grandson (grief). This story has it all! David, the king, who has everything and lacks nothing, who is busy ruling and reigning, takes time to seek out and serve Mephibosheth, the one who lacks everything and deserves nothing. 

David didn’t invite Jonathan to the table just once, but for always (vs. 7, 13). The “always” in this story makes all the difference.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and, during the teen years, second breakfast, fourth meal, until the refrigerator and pantry were empty. Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons (v. 11).

This is our story, too. We, who are lame in our sin and have nothing to offer the King, have been given a seat at the table and are being served moment by moment by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

The Church’s Table

Many days, however, the King’s table seems way beyond our tables, even out of reach. The crowded tables we long for have escaped us because of the miles between us, death, infertility, busyness, or conflict. Sin and grief can cast a shadow over the joy and hope at our tables. Joy and hope seem fleeting while sin and sadness lingers. Where can we feast while we wait to sit at the King’s table? 

Communion is the church’s table. It is the palate cleanser between the grief we sometimes taste at our tables and the eternal hope we have at the King’s table. Through communion, we are invited to remember. We remember the promises of God’s presence and steadfast love, the forgiveness of our sins, and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Then we respond and proclaim, “Christ will come again.” We remember that when Jesus returns, “we’ll join in the feast of heaven, around the table of the King.”

This month, according to our Presbyterian tradition, our daughter will take her first communion. She will begin to sample each week from the banquet that her Heavenly Father has prepared for her from now until she “beholds the Lamb” and sits down to feast with him.1 Through the regular act of standing up, filing out of the pew, down the aisle, to the table, and back to the pew, the empty nester may notice a single person who could fill an empty chair at Sunday lunch. A high schooler may catch the eye of a middle schooler she recognizes from school and smile. Participating in communion alongside other believers allows me to notice individuals that might enjoy filling one of the empty chairs at our table during the upcoming week. 

Communion has the potential to shape our tables into being extensions of the King’s table. We invite our children to share the church’s table and we tell them how much joy they bring to our dinner tables. As followers of Jesus, we can “reimagine” our tables and make room for others to feast with us.    


  1. Behold the Lamb (The Communion Hymn). (2009). Keith and Kristyn Getty. Getty Music (GTM).

Dr. Melissa Powell is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC). She is married to Chris Powell, Executive Pastor at North Shore Fellowship, and the mother of two children. An old dog, a good book, a big salad, and a long walk are a few of her favorite things.

More From This Author