Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of The Community Table Ministry

“Community Table, 02 May 2017”

Devotional offered at May Meeting of Session

Romans 14:17-18 (The Message)

“God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It is what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you will kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.”

It was our time to host the meal, our first time since all our “seasonal” church family hit the trail for their other homes in far-northern Texas.  We fretted a bit: would we have enough volunteers to serve the meal in good order?  We worried some: what if we are so overwhelmed that we end up losing some of our good folk to exhaustion/frustration?  We talked about it: what does it say about us, our ministry, this church, if we cannot carry on effectively without help from visitors?

I had decided to make a “cameo appearance?”  (Remember those from old movies: someone vaguely familiar appears briefly on the screen, but adds nothing to the overall production?)  I knew I would not be much help, but I kept my phone at the ready, in case I needed to issue an “all-hands-on-deck” message.

Oh, me of little faith!  We had more volunteers than I dared hope for, even some who came specifically to help clean up, and the prevailing spirit was one of such joy that my spirit was lifted before we ever opened the doors to the diners.

And it got better: the diners exhibited the same joyful spirit (with perhaps one notable exception), the laughter was genuine and uplifting, and I felt that warm sense of gathered family that is one of the great blessings of Christian fellowship and hospitality.

God is at work, friends!  The Holy Spirit is busy enlivening and invigorating our endeavors, and the proof is in the pudding or. better yet, in the meat loaf, in the mashed potatoes, in the smiles, in the sharing, and in the heart of this pastor who really should stop worrying and fretting and expecting the worst.

I guess I learned yet again to trust God’s presence, to trust God’s Holy Spirit, to trust God’s people to bring joy and peace, and hope and a really nurturing/nourishing experience to those who need it most, including me!

So, here is the truth as I have rediscovered it: for the modest expenditure of 2-3 hours every two months, you will be doubly blessed: you will not only be a blessing, you will also receive a blessing (more than one on both counts!).

Oh, and I am not suggesting that we do not welcome back our winter family, or that we reject their help; I just think maybe we could greet them more in joy than in desperation!

Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message)

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”