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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

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September 2, 2012

The Church Needs a Table

On the way home from worship today I heard a (rerun) episode of America's Test Kitchen Radio. Host Christopher Kimball was interviewing Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, about what and how astronauts eat in space. This exchange caught my attention:

CK: So, did it start out—the food on these flights—being a physiological challenge, a nutritional challenge, and then they realized that there was a psychological part of it, over time, and that they actually had to make them happy, otherwise they got grumpy on long flights? 

MR: Yeah, absolutely. In the beginning this was a science project, and the folks who were figuring out—how do we do this?—didn't really take into account that these are human beings, and at a certain point they're going to say, "No, enough! This is too weird. I'm a human being. I want to sit down at a table. And I want to eat food that looks and smells like food."
     And the table is an interesting thing. You don't need a table in zero gravity ... You can't put something down on it, because it floats away. You can't use it to cut things, because everything floats away. It just doesn't work. It makes no sense. So logically, they took the table away when they started doing SpaceLab and some of those bigger spacecraft. And the astronauts hated it. They said, "I know it doesn't make any sense, but we're human, and at the end of the day we want to sit around together and share a meal, such as it is. We want a table."
     So they got a table. They got the tables back, even though they've got velcro and little elastic straps. So there are these space tables that really don't make rational sense, but are important, because astronauts are people, and people eat meals; they don't ingest nutrients. 
Now more than ever—at this time when it often feels like everything is adrift and nothing is tied down—the church needs a table. Even if it seems to make no sense. Even if it seems to disrupt other agendas or delay the mission in progress. We are people, and people eat meals. In fact, we are God's people, and for two thousand years the people of God have gathered at table for the meal that Jesus prepares, where he promises to meet us, and feed us, and send us out equipped to share good news and bread. 

As we dream up new ways of being church in the twenty-first century, let's not repeat the mistakes of SkyLab. Let's not approach this as a science project, focusing only on the minimal requirements for life in a strange and sometimes hostile environment. Let's remember that the people of God are people, and people eat meals. Let's remember that, at the beginning of a new chapter in history, at the end of the day when he rose from the dead, Jesus sat down at a table with two disciples, and took bread ...

Tags: lord's day, lord's supper, new worshiping communities, worship