3D Devotional 8.27.2019

A Place at the Table

I came to Gadsden First UMC in 1993 as a mother of four young children (who were all under the age of 6 at that time).  I have to admit, I was a little lost.  I had just moved to Gadsden and I hadn't made very many friends yet.  We had ties to the Gadsden area (my husband's family), but I was not from here. It seemed natural to look for a church home  My husband traveled for work, so I spent a great deal of time alone (with four children--if you can call that being alone!).  We visited several churches in the area.  But it was the invitation to come to First UMC for the Wednesday night meal and children's activities and the fact that two of my four children were enrolled here at the Preschool/Mother's Day Out program (this was before the name changed to Early Learning Center) that would very quickly lead to Gadsden First UMC becoming our new church home.  

What was it about those Wednesday night meals that were so inviting?  I have to say not having to plan a meal or cook that one night a week was pretty awesome!  But it was the  the connection with the people that made Gadsden First UMC feel like coming home!  When I think back to those meals downstairs in Purcell Hall, the children running up and down the ramps that went up to the classrooms or sneaking through the parlor, visits to the church's children's library, the Bible Buddies classes and the children's choir, I give thanks for all of the welcoming and loving friends and teachers who were here and made us feel so welcome. But most of all, I give thanks for the opportunity to worship, grow and serve God in this wonderful place.

Jesus had something to say about inviting and welcoming others and finding them a place at the table.

Luke 14:1-14 New International Version (NIV)Jesus at a Pharisee's House 14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee,  he was being carefully watched.  2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law,  "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?"  4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.5 Then he asked them, "If one of you has a child[a] or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?"  6 And they had nothing to say.7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table,  he told them this parable: 8 "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this person your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." 12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Who will you invite to the table?

Sheila Freeman
Connectional Ministries

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