Have you ever noticed the communion table in the People of Hope Center? If not, please take note of it the next time you visit Bethel. Did you know it was handmade by four people connected to Bethel? The story behind the communion table is that at one time we worshiped in both the Historic Sanctuary and the People of Hope Center so we had to carry the communion table back and forth between the two buildings. So it was decided to make another communion table.
Anytime the church needs something made out of wood the person that is usually called is Jerry Jenkins. Jerry learned his wood crafting skills when he was a teenager in Ridgeway, Virginia working in a cabinet shop. The story behind how Jerry got that job is delightful.
Jerry was in the 7th grade and his class was going on a field trip to Washington DC. The cost of the trip was $16.50. Jerry’s family couldn’t afford the $16.50 so his 7th grade teacher made him a deal. If Jerry agreed to work in her husband’s cabinet shop for four Saturdays they would pay for the field trip. Jerry agreed and not only did he get to go on that field trip, but Jerry continued working at the shop all through high school and college! That job helped put Jerry through school.
Jerry has put those woodworking skills to good use over the years building furniture for his home and our church. So it was natural that we called upon him to build the communion table. To help with the table Jerry called upon another master craftsman, Wray Brown. The wood for the table was donated by Jason Moore, who has his own portable sawmill.
As construction progressed it came time to do the lettering on the apron of the table, “In Remembrance of Me.” This is intricate work. Thought was given to stencil the letters and hand carve them with a chisel, but they knew this would be difficult to produce a nice, even result. Then they remembered that Barbara Bell, another Bethel member, has a son named Michael who owns a CNC machine. CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled and his CNC machine will cut the letters of any font and size with delicate precision. Michael gladly helped with the project. With the lettering complete, the apron was glued on to the table, then it was taken to Wray’s shop for finishing.
The story of our communion table reminds me of the story of the construction of the Sanctuary found in Exodus 36:1-2.
“The Lord has gifted Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other skilled craftsmen with wisdom and ability to perform any task involved in building the sanctuary. Let them construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the Lord has commanded.” So Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and all the others who were specially gifted by the Lord and were eager to get to work.”
In the same way, the Lord has gifted Jerry, Wray, Jason and Michael with some very special construction skills and they were “eager to get to work” on the communion table and the table means something to these craftsman.
Jerry told me, “It gives me great satisfaction to make something for the glory of God. Using the talents the Lord gave me to honor Him is my way of service.”
Wray echoed Jerry’s comments and added that, “Its refreshing to work with people who have high standards and values.”
Jason has a unique take about the table. He says, “The oak wood could have been used as firewood or even rotted away, but with some work and in the right hands it has become a beautiful piece that celebrates Jesus. That’s kind of like us. Sometimes we stop pursuing God and our soul begins to rot, but with work, pursuing Him, praying, reading the bible, we are shaped by his hands into something beautiful that honors him.”
I tell this story for a couple of reasons. First, let us recognize and thank Jerry, Wray, Jason and Michael for their time and effort. They have constructed a beautiful table for us to gather around to share communion with Christ.
Second, let us thank the Lord for the skills that he gave these gentlemen. All credit and glory go to the Lord.
Third, notice in the Exodus scripture that it says “they were eager to go to work.”
My question for us to consider is what skills has God gifted you and where are you eager to work in His Kingdom? I believe God has given each one of us a unique set of skills that can and should be used to bless others and further the work of Christ’s Kingdom. As we use our God given talents let us remember that all we do should be done, “In Remembrance of Him.”
The Apostle Paul said it best in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Dear Lord, please help each one of us to eagerly use the skills you’ve given us to advance your Kingdom and bless others. We thank you Lord for the wood working skills that you’ve given to Jerry, Wray, Jason and Michael. Please bless them and their families. Please bless each one of us who call Bethel Baptist Church home. We love you Lord, help us to love each other and our world. In Christ name we pray, AMEN!