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4 loaves of bread on a table


Palm Sunday

An Open Table

Isaiah 50:4–9a
Mark 14:1–15:47

by Margaret Frazier

“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.”

Mark 14:3
Margaret Frazier

My grandparents retired when I was 12. My grandfather “GG” had served many years as an ordained United Methodist pastor and took a part-time appointment in his retirement at the small church across the street from the old white two-story farmhouse they decided to renovate. I loved visiting my Grammy and GG there.

The heart of their home was a long antique dining room table. With the extra leaves inserted, it could be extended to hold our whole family. And, as often as it held our family, it was also extended to hold friends from the church across the street or down the road. There were places set for the people who would show up knocking at the door to be married on the porch or asking for financial assistance with gas or whatever bill was due at the moment. Sometimes the phone would ring, and my Grammy would accept a call from a prison in Atlanta. The man on the other end was the grandson of a good friend and also guilty of murder. When on the phone, he too was at the table.

The table is the center of action for Jesus’s ministry. Even as we read in Mark 14 the accounts of the days leading toward crucifixion and resurrection, many of the events take place around the table. Is it a coincidence? The table is where our lives are played out. At the table, we are confronted by our neighbor in the seat beside or across from us. Sometimes we find our neighbor to be just like us and other times, not like us at all. Jesus modeled a table filled with diverse perspectives. In his last week, he ate with lepers, women, friends, and enemies. How are we doing the same?

It’s easy to write off my grandparents’ table as extraordinary. They were in the twilight years of a lifetime of ministry. But any of us can choose to take small steps to open our table in extraordinary ways. Jesus is inviting us to a feast this Palm Sunday. Our challenge is to pull out our chairs and sit down.

Prayer: God, we are thankful for the ways you challenge us to feast at your table where all are welcome. Compel us forward into your kin-dom by the ritual of table fellowship as modeled by your son Jesus. Amen.

Deaconess Margaret Frazier is the spiritual growth mission coordinator of the Holston Conference United Women in Faith.

Photograph is from the 2024 Prayer Guide.

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