I don’t know what it was like when you were growing up, but at my house, when you came to visit, my mother didn’t take you to the den. In fact, I can’t remember any of the houses my mother and me lived in that had a den (which is clearly unimaginable to many, I know).  When a person knocked on our screen door, they would generally yell through the screen–“Addys?!” (that was my momma’s name). Momma would yell back in true Southern fashion, “Y’all come on in!” And in they would come and sit where we all sat when we were visiting–at the kitchen table. Fresh coffee was always available,  and there was never a lack of laughter!  If you happened to be at our house at meal time, there was always a place at the table for you.

What got me thinking about this was something I read about the other day.  A month or so ago, my daughter, Whitney, introduced me to “Humans of New York” on Facebook.  So many of the stories I read there are stories of tragedy and sorrow and some are how folks have overcome great human tragedies and challenges.  Miraculously and thankfully some find a means for them to be joyfully grounded in life and moving on in their journeys.

On January 2, 2015, “Humans of New York” featured a picture of a guy sitting on a side-walk with his back against the wall.  The guy says:

“I’d been doing nothing but drinking for months on end, so I was getting pretty despondent. Then one day, a guy walked by with a hand truck, and dropped off two big boxes of books for anyone to take. I decided to set up a bookstand. I got a folding table, and three milk cartons, and set up right across the street. Pretty soon, more people were bringing me books, and I would sell them for $1 apiece. I had a pretty cool selection. I even had books from the 1800’s. But I sold them all for just $1. I called my business The Book Worm. I had a logo and everything—a little worm with reading glasses. I didn’t make much money. Just enough for food and some drinks, but it increased my self-esteem 10,000 percent. I never thought I’d be running my own business. I was drinking less and everything. But somebody took my folding table, so I’m out of business until I can find a new one. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but the whole business hinges on a folding table.”

As soon as I finished reading the post, I felt this voice swelling up inside of me that roared, “GET THAT MAN A TABLE!”

Very quickly one of the respondents to this Humans of New York post wrote:  “Don’t worry, he got a new table. I think the table was an interesting detail not because someone eventually took it, but because he created such a big change in his life with something so materially insignificant.”

Having read this, my mind immediately went to the kitchen table at my mother’s house–a place where people were welcomed.  How void our home would have been if the table had gone missing!  What would any of our homes be like without the kitchen table?!

My wife and I attended church on the 1st Sunday of 2015 (01/04).  During the worship service we were invited along with all present to come to the Table, the Lord’s Table.  There was a place at the Table for everyone, which is one of the high-marks for those who attend a worship service in a United Methodist Church (UMC).  The TABLE is not a UMC table.  It is an “open” TABLE for all who desire to partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.

In our liturgy in the UMC the communion ritual for the consecration of the elements begins with these words:  “And when he [Jesus] was at the table, he took bread…he took the cup.

I still hear that voice swelling up inside of me–GET THAT MAN A TABLE!  I hear a voice inside of me that beckons, “Y’all come on in!”  I hear the voice of Jesus saying to me, to you, to all,  “Take! Eat! Take! Drink!”

May there always be an open place at our tables in this New Year. May we all find our welcome place at the Lord’s Table. May such fellowship at the Table increase the self-esteem of all at least 10.000 percent.

Get that Man a Table!