For years, during the Vietnam War, "Us" (the United States and South Vietnam) and "Them" (the North Vietnamese) were engaged in peace talks in Paris. The two sides spent years--literally, years--arguing over the shape of the conference table! Resolutions were introduced, first by one side, then the other. All were methodically voted down.
Neither side was truly interested in peace--not as long as they thought they could do better on the battlefield. The peace conference was a stall tactic, an intricate dance of the diplomats: one side preferring a round table, the other square.
It so happens that the church does have a table: a communion table. Around it are gathered all sorts of different people, people who come from north and south and east and west. Perhaps there are disagreements among us. Perhaps there are jealousies or resentments. Yet, if we take notice of the gifts that are spread upon this table--if we truly see, in the spiritual sense--we realize it's the body and blood of our Lord who gave himself for us. Then it can no longer be Us and Them. It can only be Us and Us--and Him.
The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."
Around this table, we read that secret history. We come to understand the hurts and pains and trouble that have brought us here. What, then, is there to do, but to worship together the one who calls us here: the one we call Prince of Peace?