This will be the “Back Page” on the bulletin this Sunday (7 July 2019, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C) at Fishkill UMC.
In looking for information about the anthem that I am singing this morning (Here is a YouTube version that I “borrowed” – https://youtu.be/PNjH8rEJjDc ), I discovered a few things.
Its roots are in the spirituals of the 19th century and was known as “Down to the River Jordan”. Like many spirituals, it evolved over the years and became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement (https://civilrightssongs.blogspot.com/2014/11/im-gonna-sit-at-welcome-table-civil.html)
The “Welcome Table” is a possible reference to the tradition of leaving an empty seat for the stranger at the Seder. (“Welcome Table Theology, a sermon by the Reverend Phyllis L. Hubbell, 2/8/2004)
The 4th verse speaks of all God’s children sitting at the welcome table. But even today there are some who, even on this weekend where we celebrate freedom, would deny many that opportunity. You cannot have freedom if the status quo oppresses people. That’s one of the points that Paul made to the Galatians; how many people enforced the law for their own benefit?
Naaman and the king of Israel found out that the cure Naaman sought was not found in the traditional ways but outside the boundaries of the status quo.
Our freedom, our true freedom is found, not in the status quo, but at the welcome table.~~Tony Mitchell
Though not related to the anthem or the lectionary readings, this sermon, “The Welcome Table Revised”, presents an interesting view of hospitality.