Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Tables

When I arrived at the IHOP for breakfast, I immediately became aware of the two tables.  One table had about twenty men and women seated up and down the six or eight tables pulled together.  The other was no more than three tables long and around it were seated somewhere between six or eight men.  The big table was loud.  Not hearing was impossible as they stood and testified to success in selling.  The end of each testimony was followed by a round of applause and just before they broke up to leave, the leader said, "Go and sell something!"  The second table was much quieter, making eavesdropping something akin to a real effort.  Someone read a devotional, some people in trouble were named, and then the leader said, "Let's pray." 

Before my eggs and grits were gone, both groups broke up.  The big table people left going separate ways with the appearance of being alone.  Strange it seemed when there was such camaraderie around the table.  The small table people left with some reluctance, stayed around talking to one another, and even in their leaving seemed connected.   I confess to having sat at both tables.  The church has sometimes invited me and others to the big table so that we could hear from others how to build the church.  And even less do I want to confess that I have sometimes invited folks whose souls were entrusted to me to gather so that some sales pitch for a church program could be pitched. 

Time and energy would have been better invested at the small table where the spiritual work of the kingdom gets done.  There are no rounds of applause offered at the small table.  In fact, hardly no one notices its presence or those gathered around it.  Sometimes church work and soul work can be the same thing, but not most of the time.  The big table work may make the church bigger, but the small table work gives it a stronger soul.  I wish I had spent more time at the small table.

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