Holiness in our midst – Session 31

Holiness in our Midst


During Lent at First Christian Church in Ames, small groups are studying “WHOLE: A Call to Unity in our Fragmented World” by Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The first session was on welcoming others as God has welcomed us. One of the questions at the end of the chapter was: “Recall tables that have been important in your life.”

When I recall tables, my mind roams from continent to continent: tea with persons with disabilities in Vietnam; a community meal in southern Sudan, where villagers sacrificed a goat to honor our delegation; and taking communion with Church of the Brethren leaders in Nigeria. I was privileged to be around many ecumenical tables in my role as coordinator for mission connections for the Church of the Brethren denomination from 2001-2009. Not to mention participating in numerous (yummy!) church basement potluck tables from California to Pennsylvania.

But one table stands out because of the conversation around it. I was at a Church of the Brethren Annual Conference cross-cultural banquet in Kentucky. I remember that the placemats were laminated children’s drawings depicting world peace. I was sitting next to Toma Ragnijiya, then president of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. I had traveled with him hundreds of miles in Nigeria, and we had become friends. We found the same things hilariously funny. He turned to me and said, “Janis, we will be friends till Jesus comes.” It was his way of saying that friendships can transcend roles and portfolios. Then he said that maybe our friendship wouldn’t have to end even then. He said, “Maybe we can talk with Jesus and ask him if we could sit together at The Great Banquet.” I said that I would like that very much. My meal with Toma was important because it gave me hope that Heaven might include tables with loved ones. And, since then, I have treated tables as eternal, sacred places. I go out of my way to create community tables that address the needs of hungry and homeless persons.

What is a table that has held great meaning in your life?

STORY CIRCLE QUESTION: Recall a table that was meaningful to your life.


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write a journal reflection on tables throughout your life: family tables, communion tables, ecumenical tables, or even church basement tables.


  1. Read aloud Session XXXI.
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Question.