By Nell Green
A few years ago, my son introduced me to a song, “I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table”. It is a song they sing weekly at the beginning of their Sunday gathering.
The anonymous author of the spiritual was likely an enslaved person. The song was adapted and used during the civil rights movement adding a verse that referred to the right to vote.
While the lyrics obviously refer to a future time in God’s Kingdom where all sit together, one is aware that welcome is not experienced at the present time. There is not a place at the Welcome Table.
Thanksgiving is upon us. The table is the gathering place. It is the center of the feast we will share with others. Many of us will experience a Welcome Table. Many more will not.
“A place at the table for everyone” is the theme for this year’s Offering for Global Missions. It is based on Luke 14:12-14. Jesus taught who should be on the guest lists for our feasts, our Welcome Tables. “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”
Farm workers in Immokalee, Florida come to a Welcome Table. People experiencing homelessness in Kentucky come to a Welcome Table. Women and children in Southeast Asia needing the light of solar power come to a Welcome Table. These are just a few of the Welcome Tables that are possible because of the Offering for Global Missions.
I love to set a beautiful table especially for occasions such as Thanksgiving. I enjoy the linens, fine dishes, silver, and floral centerpiece. I painstakingly create a welcoming table; a table that invites those present to “feast on milk and honey”.
I have a general idea of who will sit at our Welcome Table this Thanksgiving holiday. I contemplate however, “Who has not yet been invited? Who will not sit at a Welcome Table?”
Thank you for giving to the Offering for Global Missions. Thank you for helping field personnel be present to prepare a Welcome Table. Thank you for helping make a place at the table for everyone. Because presence – at the table – matters.