An invitation to the Table

By Revd. Neil Lambert

Once again, a huge thank you Dan Austin for another great Easter cover for the Parishioner Magazine. For those reading this on the web page you get it in glorious Technicolor too! You might remember, last year he took us verse by verse through the chapter in the gospel of Luke 24 and the road to Emmaus. This year, we have a picture of an English hedge row, with a tree that clearly represents the cross.

The painting was inspired by a wounded blackbird that Dan found in the road, and brought home to nurse. With the mother and father blackbird, and the eggs in the nest, it’s almost like a holy family. On the lft, representing our business that we are all involved with is the car, whizzing past. On the opposite side, a field, and the hope of something different. The Sun is shining, like a beautiful pearl.

When I showed the painting to the local Chapel Poetry Group, someone said that reminded them of their favourite poem, The Bright Field  by R S Thomas. We had a look at it and it is miraculous how well it fits.

The Bright Field – R. S. Thomas

I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was the pearl

of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it. I realize now

that I must give all that I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after

an imagined past. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as our youth

once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Although Dan didn’t know the poem, he had illustrated it, just as the poem illustrates the passage, inspired by Matthew 13: 45-46 which reads:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  (NIV)

Of course the field and the pearl represent the great good news of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate every week in church, and more than any other time at Easter.

The poem talks about missing something that is so precious, because we are too busy to stop and notice. So this is an invitation to stop, and find something that is for all eternity this Easter. 

The ‘old normal’ that we find ourselves longing for was never really that normal. Let’s face it, we were stressed out and spread thin. Now is an opportunity to discover what truly is important and where our treasure lies, not in holidays or big houses or fast cars, but in connecting to our creator through Christ. 

Certainly, something that I have missed greatly during lockdown, is sitting around a table together with friends and strangers, easting and sharing. I personally can’t wait to make that part of my ‘new normal’.

During lockdown, we have of course been meeting around a table, whether in church or on zoom. It’s called the Lord’s table, and we remember what Jesus did. His last supper, crucifixion and resurrection. It is that hope of resurrection that has brought us together each Sunday around a table. To give thanks, to share, and to pray for one another— and it has been priceless. 

As we come out of lockdown we want to invite you to the table, whether it’s for a cup of tea, or to celebrate Easter. Come and join us, as we rebuild our lives as a community.

Whoever you are, whatever you believe, you are welcome.