Title: We Gather at This Table
Author: Anna V. Ostenso Moore
Illustrator: Peter Krueger
Publisher: Church Publishing Incorporated
Audience: 2-8 years
Summary: This book uses the central and unifying symbol of the communion table as a way to explore both the practicalities and the deep mystery of corporate worship for those who follow Jesus. To say that it is a guide to worship for children would be true but incomplete. It might be more accurate to say that We Gather at This Table gives us a lens through which we can understand faith: some days at the communion table we can just see bread and wine and our friends gathered around; some days we can even glimpse God’s love for all humanity stretching from Jesus through us and out into the world.
Literary elements at work in the story: This book can be read on a couple of levels. On the surface of things, it is a simple story of a church service told in eight sentences. People come, people take communion, people remember Jesus. However, the poetic language and the colorfully evocative illustrations provide a platform for a deeper dive into the why of coming together to worship the Lord.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? God’s church is for everyone, and the illustrations in this book show a multi-cultural and multi-generational congregation. The pastor is female. The liturgy in this story is probably Episcopalian, but the language used for the meal is always the more general “this table” or “this bread and wine,” rather than the more specific “Eucharist” or “Communion.”
Theological Conversation Partners: We Gather at This Table would be a great book to share with children who are learning their way around a worship service. While the main focus is on communion, the author and illustrator also point out the gathering of the congregation, prayers, scripture reading, songs, the passing of the peace, and offering. They link the shared meal back to Jesus’s supper with his friends and forward as Jesus’ followers take his love out into the world, feeding those who are hungry in the community and in their own homes (or tea parties!). Ostenso Moore and Krueger even attempt to demonstrate our worship of a Trinitarian God. This is a story that begs to be read aloud slowly in the company of someone young, someone who is used to mining the substrata of stories from the details of pictures. It is designed to be wondered over. Like faith itself, the book will grow in depth and meaning with return visits.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What sorts of people are coming to this church? Can you find someone who is old? Someone who is very young? Can you find someone you might like to get to know?
- Can you find things in this book that we do at our church?
- What do you think it would have been like to be at the table with Jesus during the Last Supper?
- How is the Last Supper like our communion?
- Where else do we share food together? Do you think that God is with us in those places, too?
- Note: the author provides several pages of “Worship Engagement Suggestions” at the end of the book to help parents and teachers guide children to be enthusiastic worshipers.
Beth Lyon-Suhring has been writing book reviews for Storypath since 2012. She has combined her former life as a children’s librarian with her abilities as a creative and gifted Christian educator to make significant contributions to Storypath and we are very grateful for the way she has shared her gifts with us here.
We Gather at This Table by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.