Sunday, July 17, 2005

Setting a table

When I was a kid we would occasionally have guests for dinner. Not very often, I think my mother was a bit concerned about the behavior of my brothers and I. We were, being polite, a handful. You see I am the oldest of five boys, no girls. All five of us are what you might consider a bit hyperactive. But every once and a while, when my parents couldn't get their important guests to agree to going out to dinner, we would have them over to our home.

This would result in a number of things. Usually dad being a bit angry, yelling at us a bit. You see we were not good at cleaning, and even worse at maintaining any sense of cleanliness. It would result in mom cooking all day, my favorite was lasagna. And it would result in special dishes being used. These were fancier than our normal dishes. We would have knifes on the table, along with spoons and sometimes two forks!!! There would be a table cloth, and some special and sometimes matching serviettes. And then a candle, or some flowers or something else to beautify things.

The glasses were actually glass, instead of plastic. There was a sense that we were preparing to receive someone special. Everything was different that night, it was somehow a way of showing how much we cared about the arriving guest.

Well on Thursday the thirtieth of June we spent most of the day at Wesley college setting the table for our honoured guests coming from all over Australia and beyond. We placed candles on tables. He hung artwork wherever feasible. We placed books, magazines, even personal pictures around the place. We created an altar with icons, and crosses and candles. We tried to provide a setting for something special to take place.

The funny thing is I don't know how much people understood it. Just like at home I don't know if the guests knew how unusual it was, nor how much time went into preparing the space. When they came they enjoyed the setting I am sure. The might have admired some art, and felt a peaceful comfort in the candles. The may have had some warm fuzzy feelings from the icons and reminders around the room. But like our guests when we were children at home, they may not have realized how different from usual it was.

But I reckon that doesn't matter. See it wasn't for them. Well it was, but it was more for ourselves. You see, we needed to set our hearts right to receive our guests. We needed to provide a space in our minds that said these people are special, they are wonderful, and this time will be unique. And running around sometimes like my dad used to do, becoming a bit frustrated, I still was warming up the idea in my heart, that we were expecting important guests. And I wanted to treat them with the love and respect they deserved. I hope I did that. I guess Jesus is doing the same thing now, preparing for our arrival.

the rev


phil said...

I am not a visual person. Yet, I noticed!
Thanks for the hard work - it is much appreciated.

Duncan said...

Hi John. I arrived about lunch time on Friday and saw some of the efforts you took to transform the environment at Wesley College. Yes it was much appreciated. The decorations, imagery, candles and displays helped create an atmosphere of expectation. It transformed a private school into a liminal space where we could explore being an exploring missional community.

Anonymous said...

hey john,
I noticed & noticed and noticed,
the symbols gave all the words more meaning

The Rev said...

Well guys, I wasn't looking for compliments, but thanks. I was saying how the preperation effects the preparer. I love you all and was hoping to make things special for you. I might have acted like a jerk in doing that, but irony isn't lost on you I hope.


the rev