Released on the Celebration Table project.  Words & Music by Steve Siler

For years I have attended mostly Disciples of Christ and Presbyterian churches. These churches have been mostly white. However, because of my work in music and the travel involved I’ve had the opportunity to worship with congregations that reflect the amazing diversity of the body of Christ.

Time and again I have been deeply and profoundly moved by the joy I have experienced when worshipping with African-American congregations. One of the things I have loved about these churches is the unrestrained celebratory nature of the music. One can tell they’ve got some good news and they are for sure going to let anyone in the vicinity know about it!

Sometimes – well, OK – nearly all the time – the placidity of my home congregations has been frustrating. We talk about joy but we don’t actually seem to feel any.

I remember a morning at a Disciples of Christ church in California when one of our few black congregants was the lay leader assigned to read scripture.

“Good morning church!” he shouted from the lectern. He was greeted by a few suppressed mumbles in return.

“You all sound like somebody killed your puppy. I said GOOD MORNING CHURCH!!!”
We did a little better the second time.

THE FAMILY TABLE

The family meal (put the cell phones away please) is a time where we tell stories from the day. It’s a time to share and to listen – a time of love and laughter. It draws us closer together and sends us away nourished and sustained, feeling a part of something greater than ourselves.

Communion in our churches is the family meal. In the congregations I’ve regularly attended it has always been approached with a serious and somber tone.

Now I get it. Communion is serious business. This was Jesus’ final meal with the disciples before the cross and he is giving them important instructions.

As his disciples we are invited to take part in this holy meal. We partake at Christ’s invitation. Isn’t that good news? Really good news? Incredible news!! And if it is such good news then why does everybody look so sad? Where is it written that reverence must be joyless?

O.K. The Music for the Soul catalog is not exactly a light and airy romp through a string of happy songs. Though all of our projects lead ultimately to the hope and freedom found in Jesus we take some pretty difficult and honest roads to get there.

But to me that’s what makes the communion table so amazing.

Have you ever messed up?
Have you made mistakes that dishonor God and make life more difficult for your friends and neighbors?
Sit down. Have some bread.

Have you foolishly gone against your own best interests, against everything I’ve taught you?
Have you caused hurt and pain and suffering?
Here. Drink from the cup.

It’s a feast for the undeserving. It’s Isaiah 55:1 all over again.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (NIV)

We are remembering God’s gift to us. If that’s not cause for celebration I don’t know what is.

So, after years of having written communion songs that were “appropriate” I sat down to write one from my heart.

At the celebration table
Lay your burdens all down
At the celebration table
Heaven starts now
with sweet, sweet forgiveness
Joy is restored
at the celebration table of our Lord!

I pray the joy of the Lord will be your strength and peace today!

Click to listen to Celebration Table and other songs from the Celebration Table project.