A Place at the Table

     This week’s blogger is our Traditional Service Worship Assistant:  Joanne Walker.   This week Joanne speaks on what having a place at the table, or not, has meant to her and how this concept has shaped her life.
     Did you grow up in a family where there was always a place at the table for the unexpected guest, where there was always enough food for the folks who dropped in? I didn’t.  My mother was a single, working mother from the time I was nine years old, and her food budget did not accommodate casually inviting friends or acquaintances for a meal, and she instructed my sister and me to decline similar invitations if we happened to be at a friend’s home at mealtime. My friend Barbara  once told me that her mother liked me best of all her friends because I said, “No thank you,” and offered some excuse for not eating when her mother felt she should ask me to join them. But if someone insisted I join the family, I always took small portions and the worst piece of chicken, usually the neck.
     My mother-in-law was of a different school.  She always insisted that drop-ins pull a chair up to the table and share the food and fellowship even if it meant she had to supplement the menu with a can of Franco-American macaroni and cheese or a  bowl of canned peaches or tomatoes.
     Since I established my own home, I am always ready to set another place at the table, but I would  be mortified to serve company canned macaroni and cheese so I compensate by cooking too much. Fortunately, my family did not object to leftovers. I am pleased if a guest asks if he can bring a friend, and I set the table with the good china, stemware—if the occasion calls for it, and cloth napkins. I want my guests to feel welcome and special and that they are a delight rather than an inconvenience.
     On the other hand,  I always felt I was very special when a friend would call me at the last minute and invite me over to share leftovers with her or when friends felt comfortable enough to use paper towels for napkins because they hadn’t been to the store.
     Here at the Coop, all are welcome at the Lord’s Table;  all are recipients of God’s grace. Perhaps we cannot all get down on our knees, but here we break bread together, drink wine together, and praise God together, and there is a place at the Table for each and every one of us and all of our neighbors and guests.

Matthew 15:21-28 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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