Community and fellowship has always been a distinctive that has marked Christianity. The table stood at the center of the spiritual story of the people of Israel and also stands at the center of the story of the church. In a culture filled with the distractions of a digital world, how do we bring the focus on relationships and community back to the center of our homes, churches, and world? In From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is Formed, Leonard Sweet seeks to answer this important question.
The first section of the book “Table It” focuses on Sweet’s own personal experiences with the table, the role of the table in the history of the church, and Jesus’ ministry of the table. One of the key themes in this segment of the book is the passing on of faith through stories that happens around the table. Sweet argues that we all desire on the deepest level a “narraphor,” which he defines as “a story made with metaphors that help us understand the world, ourselves, and God better” (p. 3). Narraphors are the stories we hear around the table that shape our faith, life stories, and identities. These stories are only found in community and relationship that is created and sustained around the table.
The second section of the book is titled “Life’s Three Tables.” The three chapters in this section focus on how the teaching and importance of the table impacts the realms of the home, the church, and the world. Sweet calls for a expression of the faith that invites outsiders into the community of faith and to reach out to others as an expression of our faith. The diversity of the body of Christ is meant to be pictured around the tables in these three spheres of life. The table is designed to be a place of ministry to those inside the community of faith and a tool for outreach to those outside the community of faith.
The table is an important place of ministry, mission, faith development, and identity formation. For many in our culture and world, the table is a place that has been often abandoned. From Tablet to Table is a helpful and timely call to not forsake the community and connectedness that we were meant to center our lives around.