God and Man At Table Are sat Down

By Robert Stamps – (1972)

O, welcome all ye noble saints of old,
As now before your very eyes unfold
The wonders all so long ago foretold,
God and man at table are sat down,
God and man at table are sat down

Elders, martyrs, all are falling down,
Prophets, patriarchs are gathering ’round
What angels longed to see now man has found,
God and man at table are sat down,
God and man at table are sat down

Who is this who spreads the victory feast?
Who is this who makes our warring cease?
Jesus, risen savior, prince of peace,
God and man at table are sat down,
God and man at table are sat down

Beggars, lame, and harlots also here,
Repentant publicans are drawing near,
Wayward sons come home without a fear,
God and man at table are sat down,
God and man at table are sat down

Worship in the presence of the Lord,
With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.
Let our host at table be adored.
God and man at table are sat down.
God and man at table are sat down.

When at last this earth shall pass away,
When Jesus and his bride are one to stay,
The feast of love is just begun that day,
God and man at table are sat down,
God and man at table are sat down.

Here He gives Himself to us as bread.
Here as wine we drink the blood He shed.
Born to die, we eat and live instead.
God and man at table are sat down.

This communion hymn is one of my favorites. It’s not in many hymn books, although I wish it was; I would recommend the selection of this hymn often. It is entitled God and Man at Table Are Sat Down (and I know that’s not “inclusive language” but bear with me and remember that man for centuries was considered a generic term). It begins with a description of the church at worship.

Remember God’s first command in the Bible? Eat! Remember also God’s last command in the Bible? Drink! And everything in between is simply a table – a life course meal of which is served the very bread of life and cup of salvation.

Friend, it is time to bring the table to our homes, to our neighborhood and our world. The way to grow as a Christian is by eating at the table of the Lord. Read His word and meditate upon it. Some of the last words of Jesus in the Bible are found in Revelations 3:20. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”. In fact, it is the Bible’s favorite image of heaven – a place where in the words of Robert Stamps, “God and man at Table are sat Down”.

Who is this who spreads the victory feast? And O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old. Elders, martyrs, all are falling down; Prophets, patriarchs are gathering round. What angels longed to see now man has found: God and man at table are sat down.

It is interesting to note that this hymn quickly veers away from that noble and comforting description of the holy people of God gathered from across time, and names a few other folks who are to be welcomed to the banquet:

It includes Beggars, lame, and harlots also here; Repentant publicans are drawing near. Wayward sons come home without a fear. God and man at table are sat down.

Oh how marvelous and how wonderful to note that here, as ambassadors of Christ with a ministry of reconciliation we are to welcome prophets, patriarchs and matriarchs, martyrs and saints, but more importantly we are to invite and embrace, again and again, the beggars and the wastrels, the prostitutes and the pimps, the passive-aggressive rule keepers and the insulting teenagers. God’s table is welcome to all who repent.

My interpretation of this hymn is this, that the meal is the message> The gospel is an invitation to go to Jesus’ house for a meal. The life we live is the journey to that banquet, and we get there not by our own acts of righteousness, by invitation to a feast. Jesus is not a one and all done meal ticket. He is our manna. He is our Manana.

Jesus’ command is not “Do it”. Rather, it is do this. Leading by example and not by instruction he says. Do this. When Jesus says to us at the table, “Do this in remembrance of me, in memory or to remember me. The “this here is the table” the breaking of bread. In other words, we are instructed to do this – table in memory of Jesus. So whenever we break bread or sup or dine together, we are to remember Jesus at our table.

About the Hymn

This hymn was written and the tune composed by United Methodist Minister Dr. Robert J. (Pastor Bob or Brother Bob as many knew him) Stamps while he was chaplain at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma USA).  A student, David Stearman, assisted him to enhance the tune. The song was written in 1972 and first published by the ‘Word of God’ Charismatic Community, University of Michigan. It is said that Pastor Bob had an appreciation and insight into communion so much that he was a great inspiration to many.

This hymn can be said to be based on Exodus 18:12 “Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God” – but clearly has other scriptural links, including the Last Supper. This hymn is sometimes called “O Welcome All Ye Noble Saints Of Old” or “Welcome All You Noble Saints”.

As awareness of gender-exclusive language grew, it became clear that the original text could not easily be adjusted.   Stearman and Rev Stamps collaborated and reworked the title and hook-line as “In Christ There is a Table Set for All”.

Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 5:16“From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view,” neither saint nor sinner, neither patriarch nor prostitute, neither martyr nor miscreant; “everything old has passed away . . . [and] everything [and everyone] has become new!”

And how can it be that a sinner such as I should be invited to dine with the Lord? Amazing what the grace of God can do. I love love to meditate on the fact that Christ came to save sinners of whom I am the worst. It is not because we are righteous that we are invited to dine with the Lord, but that His grace is sufficient and is greater than our sin.

A few comments about Communion or the Lord’s Supper

One of my favorite part of Corporate worship – part of church service is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – the Breaking of Bread. This event is known as Communion, the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, and various other names. I am aware that the use of some of these terminologies evokes some theological debates but I am not going to get into that at the moment. If you’re not familiar with it, I’m not going to give you a theological exposition of what it is; other people have already done a better job than I could do. Most people, I think, are at least vaguely familiar with what I’m talking about. It’s the time in a Christian worship service when the congregation eats a little wafer, cracker, or piece of bread and takes a drink of juice or wine. According to the Bible, the Lord’s Supper is both something we do and something God does. When we partake, we declare the Lord’s death–in other words that Jesus died in the place of His people, of us. But more importantly than what we are doing is what God is doing. Basically, God has promised to work spiritual blessing in us when we take part in the sacrament by faith. That is why it is sometimes referred to as a means of grace. It is a way in which God gives us a gift of blessing that we don’t deserve or work for.

When we participate in the Lord’s Supper we are in God’s presence in a special way. That’s one of God’s promises too. And, one of my favorite aspects of the Lord’s Supper is that it is a unifying event. Not only uniting God with His people, but also His people with one another. That’s why it’s called Communion. If you are a Christian, then you’ve experienced–and if you’re not, you’ve surely noticed–that Christians often struggle with infighting. Sometimes this bickering is over very important matters–yet other times over very trivial ones. But, when we meet together to have the Lord’s Supper, any other issues are set aside. Whatever God’s people may disagree about, when we come together around this Lord’s Supper or breaking of bread, we are united in our total dependence upon Jesus for our life and breath, our salvation and everything we have. Even better, we’re not just united amongst the people gathered in our little church sanctuary, our denomination, or even among all Christians living in the world today. Rather, all of God’s church universal and eternal is communing one with another in a meal presided over by our Savior Jesus. If this sounds cheesy to you, then you haven’t experienced it. And, I would invite you to check out a local church that preaches the Gospel and check out what goes on.

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