As I watched the Democratic Town Hall Meeting, I was struck by the relative calmness the candidates maintained. Now, I know enough about politics to know that these candidates are coached by handlers and dressed by stylists and heard because of sound engineers, but there was something about their sitting down to a table that changed the atmosphere of the debate.
When you sit down at a table, you have to worry about unbuttoning your coat or not. When you sit down at a table, you have to worry about whether your legs are going to be too short to reach the ground. When you sit down at a table, you have to wonder whether you should leave your jacket on or not. When you sit down at a table, you become more vulnerable and less polished and, well, more human.
In churches, our leaders stand behind pulpits often on raised platforms, making it easy for those of us who stand up on Sunday morning to forget what it’s like to sit down at the table. In the Lukan narrative, the table is where important decisions are made. It’s where Jesus reverses the norm by eating with sinners and outsiders rather than religious leaders. It’s where Jesus gives instructions to his disciples to gather and to remember after he is gone.
If you ask me, it would serve our churches well to sit down at the table just like the candidates did (or rather attempted to do as they were still on a platform) because it changes the way we talk to each other when we are eye level and worrying about whether to unbutton or coat or not and about whether our feet are going to touch the ground or not.