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A Place at the Table

April 16, 2023

Another Way for week of April 7, 2023 [Note I always publish my columns a week after they’ve had a chance to appear in local newspapers.]

Did you grow up eating your evening dinner/supper at a table with the family? Did you have a specific place where you just about always sat? Did you like your place?

Michelle sitting at “her place” at the table, elbows tucked in, minus Dad who usually sat next to her.

My husband was telling a friend about his oldest daughter whom we shall call, for purposes of this story, “Flying Elbows.” As she grew taller with nice long limbs, she wasn’t afraid to claim her place at our small table: elbows sticking straight out, right next to my husband. Our two other daughters sat on either side of me.

Daughters playing tea party at a mini-table with their babies.

You probably already guessed the story: that his “space” was frequently invaded with her flying elbows as she dug into our dinner. Now he remembers it nostalgically. We love having all our children and their children sitting at our table. It happens too infrequently, but that’s life.

There’s a lovely hymn in many of our hymnals these days, called For Everyone Born/A Place at the Table. It is kind of a communion song but also a reminder of God welcoming one and all to God’s table, which is a wonderful thing.

The third verse reminds us that all—both young and old, wrinkled or young child, are welcome at God’s table. God delights in the larger family joined around the communion table and wants us all to pursue both justice and joy. (See for more text.)

Shirley Erena Murray from New Zealand wrote the hymn lyrics (in addition to writing many others) and Brian Mann composed the lovely tune and rhythm. I love to sway with the music as we sing that song at church, remembering that just three short years ago we couldn’t come to the communion table or even gather as a church community because of covid. We quickly transitioned to a “hybrid worship” format held mostly online, but gradually with a few chairs in our sanctuary, one could reserve a seat if you wanted to be present in person and wear a mask. We put away all the hymn books at that time which we are now able to freely use again. We are happily planning to be celebrating in person again this Easter with an egg hunt of hundreds of plastic eggs (stuffed with candy or trinkets) on our massive church lawn.

These opportunities and traditions are more precious than ever as we have learned the difficulties and losses of a pandemic. It’s almost like a resurrection that we celebrate this weekend: hugs, tears wiped away, the generous love of God flowing around.

Of course not all is well in our world and God calls us to work for justice and putting down of arms. Illness and diseases and syndromes of many kinds cause patients and families and loved ones much pain and heartache. Social issues such as addiction and drinking to excess, often followed by abuse of family members and friends abound. Why? How can all be helped to living cleaner lives with support of the loved ones who care about them?

Our church and many others offer spaces for community groups like AA or individuals needing and wanting help (with no need to be a church member). In the Bible, (Luke 14: 15-25) there is a parable told by Jesus where those invited to attend a banquet thrown by a rich fellow don’t bother to show up. A servant is sent out to remind people about the banquet they were invited to. Excuses abound: “I just bought a field and must check on it.” “I just bought five oxen and I’m going to try them out.” Finally this: “I just got married, can’t make it.” Moral for us here: while it is excruciatingly hard to give up bad and dangerous habits, others have done so and eagerly want to help others.

God’s table has room for us all. As we celebrate Easter this weekend, may we all find ways to help others, as well as get any help that we may need in crushing life-draining habits or pastimes.

I’d love to recall what was going on at this table with my parents visiting for our middle daughter’s high school graduation. Our small kitchen didn’t have much room for flying elbows!

I hope you had a good Easter week!

What was your place at the table when you were growing up? Are the memories good or bad?

Any stories you recall from the family table?

Comment here! Or contact me via Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

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