Around the Table

There is nothing I love more than just sitting around the table after a great meal, enjoying the company of good friends; talking, laughing, listening, sharing—basking in the contented atmosphere of caring companionship. It was part of my heritage and my growing up years. Mom and Dad always had the coffee pot on; Mom would come up with “a little something to go with your coffee”, even if it was nothing more than cinnamon toast. I learned a lot, sitting around the table; I learned the best part about being a family–acceptance, tolerance, understanding, compassion—new friends were quickly included in that circle. And I felt something special—almost magical—like a warm blanket wrapping you up on a cold day. Our home was always open and the table seemed to be the gathering place.

As our five children grew, we found the same tradition at the center of our family life. Family, friends, kids from the neighborhood—all were drawn to and welcomed around that big, expandable dining room table. We never knew how many would show up for Sunday dinner; but there was always room to squeeze in another plate. Anyone was welcome and accepted—as is– and most were in need of what we had to offer. We didn’t just eat at dinnertime, although a lot of food was consumed there—especially during those teen-age, all-appetite years—but we spent time together—being a family. We often joked—“Hey, don’t rush off. You need to ‘visit’ a while.” As a result of those years of a “full house”, we found ourselves with an extended brood of “adopted kids” who became just like our own.

Those were important times for our family and hold so many great memories; we kept the big dining room table in storage for many years. None of us had room for it, but we couldn’t bear to part with it. It finally found a home with one of our “adopted kids”.

It was through those times of being “seated” around that table that we connected, bonded, really got to know each other and those who sat with us. Paul talks about that in the spiritual sense in Ephesians 2:4-8. “But God, being rich in mercy,

because of His great love with which He loves us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches

of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God..”

I can’t imagine anything more exciting than to sit around the table and get to know God! He takes us in—just as we are—full of sin. Paul says, “..we were dead…” in our sins—about the most unlovely looking people, wallowing in our failings and faults—-and yet—“..because of his great love..”– when we come to him, he takes us in, forgives our sins, and sits us down at the best table heaven has to offer—-WITH GOD! What could be more amazing than that? And what could be more joyful, thrilling, and exhilarating than getting to know God? And even better, he then actually “adopts” us into his family… “..that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:5

Now our family is grown and scattered across the country; we seldom have the luxury of sitting around the table together and we really miss that. But what a blessing to be a part of a bigger family; to be “seated” with Christ around the heavenly table; to feel his love, acceptance, kindness—all you have to do is knock on the door—-“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you..”(Matthew 7:7) and God will throw open the door, give you a big hug, and say, “Welcome to the family; come and sit by me.”
– Pastor Marilyn Jeffrey

Singing With My Fingers

You can see interesting events from a church piano bench. For example, you can see a young couple holding hands below a hymnal where they think no one sees, at least you could when young people actually held hymnals. On the piano bench, you have a great view of what is happening. You can see up close a children’s program. However, the best views are of the congregation watching the children perform, especially the parents and family of the performers. Most of the time, Church of God parishioners are very neutral in their expression. However, when kids perform, the congregation smiles and their eyes twinkle, even the “sour and dour”.

There are some disadvantages of sitting on the piano bench. Obviously, everybody can see everything what you do, which is not always a good thing. When your music falls off the piano as you turn the page, or you start off playing in the wrong key, or going to sleep on the bench and falling while hitting the keyboard during prayer, these are not good at anytime.