The roundtable worship gathering has been the principal way I have stayed centered over the past two decades. The symbolism of the round table has played a central role in many people’s longing for an inclusive fellowship of equals seeking reconciliation through speaking and listening from the heart. It is precisely this physical gathering at table that has been overturned in our response to the pandemic rifling through our midst. Yet we continue in little squares of participation on the computer screen, zooming from voice to voice as we stitch a conversation that might clothe us for the weeks and months ahead.
Even as we embrace technologies that bring us into contact around the globe, we also remember and rediscover the local gatherings and meetings that actually create the trust necessary for reconciled life—at patio tables for two or four, across sales counters draped in plastic sheets, and at polling places and counting halls as we register and record our votes. It is in these local encounters that we have the chance to turn fear into respect, anger into understanding, rejection into cooperation.
Right now we are being saved by the thousands of citizens who have carefully counted every vote, by the health workers who have cared for us one person at a time, for the grocery clerk who helps us obtain food, the public servants who keep our common life going from post office to fire station. That’s what I’m giving thanks for this season. As we witness the spectacle of self-absorbed vanity in our highest offices, we are being sustained by the everyday heroism of the person next door and down the street. And so we give thanks for one another.
We have just gathered for our monthly roundtable of prayer and conversation. I share the words of our liturgy with you. And then, next week, we simply, very simply, give thanks.
Call to the Table
Out of the lie of self-sufficiency
You call us to the truth of your sustaining love.
Out of the wounds that hold our hearts in pain
You lead us to the healing balm of your acceptance.
From the wilderness of empty promises
You draw us to the waters of your faithfulness.
From the fist of vengeful fear
You take us in your all-forgiving arms.
We come to your table.
Your table of peace.
ALL. Amen. Amin, Ameyn.
In the wake of fratricidal murder, you placed a mark of your protection on the face of Cain.
In the storm of Pharaoh’s cruelty you made a way through waters of resistance to a promised land.
In the midst of endless bloodshed you brought forth new generations through a mother’s care.
In exile and destruction you burned off the idols of our wealth and power.
In your self-giving you released the power of a new creation.
In life, in death, the thankful love of countless saints has brought us to this table of your peace.
O, Healer at the Heart of Life,
With the brilliant beauty of the fallen leaves our hearts exult in grateful praise. For the bounty of the earth despite our thoughtless exploitation, we give you hearty thanks. For the love that gives us strength to give and to accept forgiveness, we lift our voice in thankfulness. For fellowship beyond each barrier of disease, we give you our unending thanks.
The Hope Prayer
O Source of Life, You alone are holy.
Come, govern us in perfect peace.
Give us today the food that we need.
Release us from our sin as we
release our enemies.
Sustain us in our times of trial.
Liberate us all from evil powers.
Guide us in your justice, wisdom, and peace. Amen, Amin, Ameyn
Words of Commitment
In God’s love, we will seek the path of reconciliation.
In God’s power, we will walk the ways of peace.
In God’s wisdom, we will struggle for God’s justice in this world.
In God’s mercy, we will seek to care for Earth, our home.