by Charles Robey
(Trussville AL USA)
Be Present At Our Table, Lord
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble (Romans 14:17-21).
Oh, those infamous church suppers. I have certainly had my fill, some good and some not so good. The following hypothetical church supper scenario is rather humorous in nature, but has a very good moral spiritual ending. I trust you will enjoy.
“OK, everyone please bow your heads for grace,” Pastor Pilgrim said. After a brief prayer we all joined in by singing our traditional blessing.
Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored;
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.
Then the fun began as usual."Children and women first,” Pastor Pilgrim exclaimed. This opening remark was rebutted as always by Ms. Sad. You see, Ms. Sad was confined to a wheel chair and would always mumble under her breath that the church never considered the handicapped.
Well, as soon as everyone was served, the congregation settled in at their table and the good ladies of the church commenced their normal critical assessment of the "Holy Vitals".
"I need to hurry so that I can get a piece of Ms. Bakes red velvet cake. Last time it was all gone before I got through,” said Ms. Hurry.
"Who in the world brought the red bean casserole? It was awful,” said Ms. Gabby.
"I know what you mean,” Ms. Good replied. "It was so sticky it wouldn't leave my fork."
"Who had the nerve to bring such a potato casserole?” whispered Ms. Questionable. "Have you all noticed, no one has dared touch it. Looks like it was made by pouring tomato soup over potato chips.” Of course, when Ms. Questionable whispered, you could still hear her throughout the sanctuary because she wore a hearing aid.
"Has anybody tried my daylight muffins?" asked Ms. Good.
Ms. Naughty then spoke up from across the table and said, "Is that what that was? I thought them to be midnight disaster." The entire table chimed in with laughter.
Immediately Ms. Good excused herself saying she was feeling a little queasy. But we men all knew what was wrong, for you see, as she passed our side of the table, she immediately bowed her head, started crying, wiping her eyes with her apron.
Ms. Quiet hardly said anything during our church suppers. But when she heard all the other brazen comments, she sheepishly joined in and asked if anyone noticed the runny banana pudding.
And on and on flew the negative comments. I dare say, no one's dish escaped ridicule that night other than Ms. Cook's party tray which she had brought from the local deli. Ms. Cook had learned long ago not to bring a cooked dish and face our loving Christian parishioners.
Furthermore, what were the Deacons doing during all the chattering and food critiquing? Of course they were talking of hunting, fishing and the like, with no mention of spiritually. You see, the Deacons would never criticize any of the church ladies’ cooking. Why, that would be a mortal sin!
"Would you just look at Ms. Thrifty, packing up all that leftover food again. She says it's for a sick shut-in, but we know different. She's hording it up for herself," shouted Ms. Thrifty.
Then the time came to clean up. "Where's Ms. Tidy? You know she always leaves after she eats. Have you ever known her to stay and clean up?" exclaimed Ms. Do-Good.
Then it was Pastor Pilgrim's time, as Pastor Pilgrim always closed the supper with a few brief remarks as he liked to call it. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he would always start. Then, in a joking manner, he would always continue by saying he used those words loosely.
Pastor Pilgrim was a good old man, but sometimes his humor left a lot to be desired. However, this time Pastor Pilgrim spoke differently. It was as if a voice from Heaven anointed his tongue, since it wasn't Pastor Pilgrim's normal delivery. He started out by reading the following Bible verse.
“And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up and said to them, " He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her"(John 8:6-7).
Pastor Pilgrim then concluded his short devotion with the following remarks. “The ‘let he who is without sin, cast the first stone’ incident is one of the most well-known lessons of the Bible. A woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus Christ by the scribes and Pharisees as a test to see how He would react.
In response to their deceitful query, He didn't condemn the woman, not because He condoned her sin, but because the men who brought the woman to Him were hypocrites. He was the only person there that day who was free of sin, the only one who had the right to ‘cast the first stone.’ He didn't stone her, but instead forgave her and told her to ‘sin no more.’"
Although Pastor Pilgrim had been eavesdropping on the entire supper conversations, he didn't condemn anyone for their remarks. He just concluded with the following Bible verse.
"Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Revelation 22:14-15).
I dare say, we had many more church suppers during my time at the church. However, the conversations were very different. Our entire congregation not only talked and acted like Christians, but cooked like Christians as well. You see the age of God's miracles did not pass over our little church.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
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