We recently made an extremely exciting and totally unexpected discovery at St John’s. During some investigative work on the communion table and reredos (the carved screen behind the table) we unearthed what must be the church’s original communion table. It was shoved under the carved table and cannot have been seen since the ‘new’ table and reredos were installed in 1891. Although it is in need of a good clean and a little TLC, the original table is in surprisingly good condition for something made in the 1850s. It is a bit of a mystery why it was put where it was; those who forced it into position would have expected it not to be seen again.
I wonder what stories that table could tell? It would have been a central part of the lives of the people of Bourne End for 40 years. Unknown to anyone, it has witnessed the worship, the baptisms, the marriages, the funerals and the quiet prayers – not to mention coffees, lunches and other celebrations – of villagers and visitors for almost a further 130 years.
It felt fitting, and was surprisingly moving, to use the original table the Sunday after its discovery to celebrate communion. In doing so we reclaimed it and restored it to the purpose for which it had been made. We used it to tell the story that is at the centre of the Christian faith. The story Jesus told us to remember when we broke bread and drank wine together. The story of how Jesus died for us so that we might be reclaimed from sin and restored as children of God. The story of how he calls us to share that good news of God’s love with others.
Whether you know this story or not, it is still there waiting to be discovered. Why not come and see?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3.16
with love and prayers