I am always touched deeply when I hear the song “At The Table” by Josh Garrels. This song uniquely travels through the relationship between the prodigal son and his father. Just as we can find ourselves in the parables that Jesus spoke, there are many places that we can find ourselves in the lyrics of this song. Perhaps the most powerful line is spoken from the father’s point of view, “There will always be, always be, a place for you at my table, return to me, my child”.
Like many of you, I’ve had seasons of life as the the prodigal son, the prodigal’s brother, and the prodigal’s father. I believe that’s the power and beauty laced within parables–they’re applicable in all seasons, for all people, in any place. God has been teaching me a lot through the lyrics of this Gospel inspired song. There are times when we will be the ones who bring pain, the ones who are hurting, and the ones who are observing and not sure how to intervene.
I believe that Jesus shows us there is a space that we can gather, no matter which role we find ourselves in: The Table. Whether it’s a physical table that we are gathered around or a space that we’ve created with the intention of connecting, God uses these spaces for healing. In a day and age where we can easily hide behind a veil of text messages and Instagram posts, it can be hard to seek authentic connection. It’s easy to let grudges fester when we don’t know people up-close.
The power of the Table is that it creates a space to truly be seen. Through the social media lens it’s easy for us to assume that our co-workers have their lives together or that someone is being passive aggressive in their digital response. When we assume that someone is at an unapproachable level of perfection or that someone is out to make our lives miserable, we begin to only see them through that lens. When we invite those that are close to us as well as those who have hurt us to our Tables, we are able to see them in real-time. Healing takes place in these moments at coffee-shops, hikes through the woods, sharing meals, and simply sharing life.
The lyrics of this song have also inspired me to be a Table Maker even before there is need for reconciliation. I often view my mornings as time for meditating on who will be sitting at The Table with me throughout the day. I picture the clients I’ll see and the ghosts they may bring with them. I picture the friend that I’m going to grab coffee with later that day and the healing that will happen as we swim through deep waters. I picture my husband and how we need to continually create space at our Table for Jesus to join us through the hard times, the joyous times, and every moment in between.
In Brene Brown’s recent book Braving the Wilderness , she reminds us of the importance of seeing people through God’s eyes. She powerfully states, “And if our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet, that should include the politicians, media, and strangers on Twitter with whom we most violently disagree. When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate
our own, and we betray our faith”. The Table is a space where we can shift our lens and see the prodigal son portraying humility, the prodigal’s father extending unconditional love, and the prodigal’s brother as demonstrating protection for his loved ones.
Today, I challenge you to step into this song and this parable. Where do you find yourself in the lyrics and Gospel pages? Who do you need to invite to your table to connect and commune with?