I love creating things. One of the joys of building out the space for The Table Dallas was that I got to design and build the banquet tables around which we gather to share our meals. As you can see from the photo, they are simple ones – rough cedar tops with black iron pipe legs – but functional as part of our rustic industrial design theme.
Building those tables got me thinking about the role of work in the life of a Jesus follower and that Jesus, a carpenter by trade, would likely have built a table or two in his day. Can you imagine a table crafted by Jesus? I can. It would be dimensionally precise and functionally perfect. In a word, flawless.
Prolific 20th century writer Dorthy Sayers picks up on this theme in her essay “Why Work?” which was published most recently in a collection of her thoughts titled Letters to a Diminished Church. A contemporary of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, some of you may be familiar with her through her popular Lord Peter Wimsey novels which have been recently re-released. The words she originally penned soon after World War II have taken on new meaning in our post-Christian world. She writes, “But is it astonishing? How can any one remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life? The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly — but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made Heaven and earth. No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.”
Connecting our work to our faith is not something we likely spend a bunch of time considering during this season of Lent, but perhaps we should. If God is in the process of restoring all of His creation – and I believe that He is – then God is at work through his people making all things new. Even in our table-making.