we are tabled people
William Everett's reflections on the "roundtable worship" continue to shape and inform our coming together on a Sunday morning:
Our table is placed at the centre of the sanctuary and we circle around. We are not sitting before an altar. We are gathered at table. We are not facing a pulpit above us but a table before us. We are not seated at a stage to see a show but at a table facing others ready for a meal and conversation. It is a moment calling for participation, a moment with its own anxiety and its own promise.
‘Roundtable‘ is not merely a description of a physical table but a process in which all have equal voice. It takes place in a circular process of speaking and listening that accords respect and dignity to all participants. It is a conversation focused on the interests that unite as well as divide us, not the personalities that give them voice. It is a conversation led by hope for reconciliation and negotiation of a new future together.
We place a candle on the table to remind us that there is a spirit of wisdom and illumination presiding at the table. This is a table where we declare the Spirit of Christ is to preside. When we light the candle at the table‘s centre we are saying that we seek a conversation in the light of Jesus‘s ministry and the long line of people before and after him who have walked this path and kept the light alive. In saying that ‘Christ‘ presides, we mean that there is a governing authority who has been, is, and will be in our midst to inspire and guide our conversations.
Finally, in saying ‘Christ presdies at this table‘ we are saying that our coming to the table is an act of faith. It is a faithful trust that new understandings and new possiblities of reconciliation will emerge in our gathering. But because ‘Christ‘ appears in the process, indeed, that Christ is here ‘in the Spirit‘, we realise that each of us is responsible to act in harmony with that spirit. It requires a discipline in each on of us to listen with a desire for understanding, to speak from the heart rather than from our defences, and to search for a way ahead that build community. We affirm this ‘Christ‘, this ‘anointed one‘, as the centre of a peace-buidling spirit that presides through persuasion rather than conquering coercion. The presidency of Christ is, like Jermiah‘s covenant, ‘written in our hearts‘, but it is realised in the crossroads of communal conversation. While we have different thoughts and feelings about the term ‘Christ‘, we join together in an effort to let this kind of spirit take root in our hearts and actions.
(From Roundtable Worship: A Reflective Guide by William Johnson Everett)