By Chuck Sackett
Ellie sat in the third row, left-hand side of the worship center. Ellie was from the wrong side of the tracks. Her clothes were not the best, and sometimes not the cleanest. She didn’t always clean up well, especially at first. But she was there, every Sunday.
Ellie didn’t always eat well. Many of her meals in years past had been served from the Dumpster side of restaurants. Even now she had few dishes and little money for food. Actually, she wasn’t that good of a cook.
The Binghams sat in that same row. They might have been the wealthiest family in the congregation, though there was nothing ostentatious about them. Their home was in a better part of town. Their clothes were always neat and clean. They smelled good.
The Bingham dishes always matched. Their dining room table was the picture Better Homes and Gardens was looking for. The food was plentiful and the aroma made your mouth water. Meals were a family event in the Bingham household.
John and Mary had been attending church since they were little. Now they were bringing up their children in the same congregation. Ellie, on the other hand, began coming to church as much out of desperation as anything. But she came. Every Sunday Ellie and the Binghams shared the third pew, left-hand side. It might have been the most incongruous arrangement in the entire building. Binghams: wealthy, well-dressed, polished; Ellie: her ragged clothes a parable of her rugged life. As different as different could be, sharing the same pew.
But that’s not all they shared. As different as their lives outside the confines of the church building might be, they were identical once they entered. For every Sunday they shared a meal in common—the one we call the Lord’s Supper.
At this table one’s address doesn’t matter. A this table one’s clothes are insignificant. At this table, one’s past is forgotten and one’s present inconsequential. Here, it is his presence that matters. Here, it is his blood-splattered garments that hold our attention. Here, everyone is equal. At this table, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Chuck Sackett serves as preaching minister with Madison Park Christian Church, Quincy, Illinois, and professor of preaching at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian University.