For 2000 years, Jesus has been inviting us to the table. Over those 2000 years, various personalities, principalities and places of worship have tried to define and restrict who is welcome at that table. So in places (like First Pres) where we open the table to all the people Jesus invited in the first place, we come up against those who have been wounded, rejected and disappointed by the church. But we continue to invite. Jesus continues to invite. The table remains an open and welcoming space to all who want to encounter the living Lord Jesus Christ.
At First Pres “The Table” has at least two meanings. It is the communion table where we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and it is the monthly community meal we offer free of charge to anyone who wants to show up. The meal is not only for our church members to have the opportunity to sit down with family and friends to a meal that they didn’t have prepare or clean up, but for community members who would also like that opportunity and for whom a free meal might be a boost to a tight budget.
It’s been difficult to get people to come to The Table. No doubt there are concerns that anything held at a church comes with a catch–that any free food must come with a force fed sermon. And, with good reason, many people are mistrustful of churches and have been mistreated in such places before.
But last Sunday, we had six people (other than church members) for whom the meal was a real two-fold blessing. They appreciated both the food and the welcoming community. Feeding six people after six months may not seem like a lot, but it’s really quite a big deal. We did not stop inviting. And people have started to come.
Thanks to the wise planning and smart use of leftovers by Lori Moore and Katie Reid, coupled with the generosity of those who can afford to donate toward the meals, The Table has cost the church almost nothing in dollars and cents over the last six months.
In April, the Young Adult Volunteers from Ferncliff will be coming to help with The Table. You will want to meet these three impressive young people who have spent the last year in service to the larger church and the community. They are the kind of people we want our kids to grow up to be.
I encourage our members and friends to mark your calendars for the third Sunday of each month and plan to come to The Table. We’ll keep inviting you and the rest of the community and hope that you will join us.