|Photo Credit - Peter Sylvia|
The word itself, spoken without context, allows those who hear it to see with their mind’s eye that with which the mind connects its five letters, its two syllables.
A table in their home
The restaurant their family frequents
For me, it most often brings to mind that piece of furniture around which I have sat. It’s a table where I have gathered with others to share a meal, lay out projects, unload bags of groceries as well as to help with homework.
It’s a table in our home
There is also a table in our church.
It’s a table where we come together to be about the work of faith.
It is at this table where all are fed and nourished in body, mind and spirit... time and time again.
I am often in awe of that which can be accomplished, that which can be gained at table.
In our United Church, there’s another understanding of table.
Yesterday morning, the delegates at the 32nd General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted to table a resolution that had proven the night before how we were, we are, a church divided.
For those following along, the resolution of which I speak had potential to sever part of Christ’s body by eliminating the opportunity for groups/organizations to hold a space in the Exhibit Hall if their theology is not in line with that of those presenting the resolution. (Related story)
The primary targets of this resolution were our siblings in Christ who identify as Evangelical, Conservative, Orthodox and/or Traditional. Siblings with whom I have spent a good amount of time in conversation each Synod.
I’ve intentionally spent time at the Faithful and Welcoming booth, thanking them for their presence... not only in our Exhibit Hall... in our beloved United Church of Christ.
I’ve thanked them for their conviction, their courage, and their willingness to walk in faith alongside me and others with whom their theologies may disagree.
And at this Synod, I’ve let them know that my heart has broken open for them as I witness how they have been treated by others.
To table this resolution was, in my opinion, the healthiest of options we had before us.
And still, a healthier option could have been to sit at the table for conversation and learning.
To sit at the table and break bread.
To crack open hearts.
To drink deeply of a cup common to all.
A healthier option could have been lived together at table before pen came to paper or fingers to keys to produce a resolution of aggression and hatred.
There could’ve been another way.
So now... we work with the table we have.
Yet not beyond repair
And in the future, God willing... we find another way.
The Rev. Timoth Sylvia is the Senior Minister at Newman Congregational Church UCC in Rumford, RI.