Turning the Tables
On Sunday morning Wade turned over a communion table. Fortunately (or unfortunately, from my perspective) it wasn’t a real one, just a plant on the stage. Can you call it a stage if it’s at the front of the worship area? Anyway, it was pretty powerful stuff.
He was talking about Jesus’ final week, which we’ll be doing at Garnett until Easter. He talked about the clearing of the temple, and Jesus’ unkind words for the Pharisees. All of that was pretty standard. Then he asked what Jesus would think of our lifestyles, of our spiritual lives, of our church life. Still standard. Then he asked what we would do if he weren’t happy. “What would we do if Jesus came in and started throwing over communion tables?!”
The congregation was arrested…I was at least. I kind of froze – first trying to figure out if there was really any communion on the table – then truly thinking about the question. What would Jesus think of all the junk we do on Sunday morning as though it’s divine law? About the expectations we heap on newcomers, expecting them to fit into the social mold of our congregations? About the amount of money churches (like ours, in its history) have spent on enormous buildings, rather than on service or missions? I think it’s pretty obvious that the train’s off the tracks, but in how many places and how do we get it back on?
One of the big things that I appreciated was that this sermon wasn’t your typical “anti-establishment Jesus” sermon. It’s pretty clear that Jesus wasn’t against the establishment because it was the establishment, and he wasn’t against the powerful because they were in power. He was against the established perversion of the Law, and the abuse of power to build up the ego and position of the powerful and crush those who opposed them or didn’t live up to their manufactured standards.
I’ve heard and read many people who use Jesus conflict with the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the scribes to say, “Jesus spoke out against the establishment, and you should too.” They ignore the fact that Jesus wasn’t speaking against a group, but against a perversion of God’s commands. They say that he sought to tear down and undermine power structures.
I think that’s an awfully small view of Christ’s ministry. It is a part of it. He said the first will be last and the last will be first, but he clearly didn’t mean in this life. So there must be more to the story…