“Our full humanity is contingent on our hospitality. We cannot be complete until we are giving something away.” -Alice Waters

Whether it’s two friends meeting over coffee and bagels before work or a dinner party to celebrate a milestone event, there’s no denying the transformative power of a shared meal. Stories are shared, laughter ensues, lives intertwine. And that’s without mentioning the joy of the food itself. Of course meals can also be the center of conflict, coldness and division–sadly, we can come to dread family gatherings and the remembrance of certain past meals affects our enjoyment of present ones.

What do shared meals, and the joy and sorrow bound up in them, have to do with what we do on Sundays in worship? The good news of the historic Christian gospel is that in it, Jesus invites sinners (flawed, broken and self-centered people–in other words, all of us) to a rich, transformative banquet, a meal where both our joys and our sorrows are met with his grace. In Jesus’ day, to share a meal with someone was to initiate a lasting bond with them, and for estranged friends, it was an offer of reconciliation. When Jesus calls us to worship him together, he is calling us to reconciliation with God and with each other.

This is why at the start of every week on Sunday, we gather around Jesus’ table as hungry and thirsty people, and through songs and prayers, hearing from Scripture and sharing the Lord’s supper together, our joy finds its true source and our sorrow finds its Comforter in Christ. Jesus calls us to this banquet himself: “Come all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)