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A ‘sales table’ talks…

I arrived at this place early one morning, dumped on the doorstep in my smart brown cardboard box, and there I stayed in the damp and the rain, until a man arrived who unlocked the door and took me inside.

It was a dark, chilly place but the man undid my wrappings and a lady placed me in front of a radiator. I thought it was to keep me warm, but the lady said it was to keep the damp from damaging her stock. Apparently I now live in a church, All Saints, Inveraray and am to be used to display all the cards, booklets, bookmarks etc., on sale at the back of the church. The lady said she was a little concerned at a sales tables in a church, as a man called Jesus had thrown out all the people who were buying and selling in the temple. But as the church didn’t have a vestibule and income was needed to keep the church open, I was placed at the back of the church opposite the door where everyone could see me. There I was all smart and gleaming having been polished… what a thing to do!

I now carry a wide variety of items, all colourfully displayed to tempt the visitor’s eye. My centre-piece is a smart deskpad with pens and a basket of labels for those who wish to write a prayer request to go on the tree, prior to it being read and prayed for during the Thursday service of prayer and reflection. Of course people from all around the world have heard about our Prayer Tree, which thinks it is just the “bees- knees” in importance around here but the thing is, no one’s noticed that all these people come and sit on a comfy chair at my table to write their cards, I always try to look inviting and make them comfortable.

A few weeks ago the lady came into the church one afternoon to find a little family gathered there. The man was showing the little girl the candle stand and how to light one of the tiny votive candles. The little girl’s mother was sitting very still at my table. So as not to disturb them the lady went and quietly sat in the Quiet Space we’ve created this year, she was worried because she saw that the lady looked quite poorly and her husband was clearly trying to keep their daughter amused so as to give his wife some time to herself. After a while he gently asked his wife if she felt better and wished to go. At first she didn’t appear to hear him as she slowly picked up the cards one by one, looking at them and reading the reassuring words of God’s love written upon them. They seemed to be give her comfort and she replied that if he didn’t mind, she’d like to stay a little longer, continuing to look at the booklets and cards, reading a little. The lady from our church decided not to intrude upon the visitor, but sat in the Quiet Space and prayed that whatever was causing such obvious pain and hurt might be healed through the Love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Eventually, after a long time sitting quietly, the visitor rose to her feet with a sigh, almost as though reluctant to leave and go out into the world outside once more. But it was a ‘good’ sigh, as though whatever it was she was seeking, she had found it here in this place, not sat on a chair in the body of the church, nor kneeling at the altar rail, but sitting on a comfy chair at a Sales Table. Our Lord would have understood her need. 

Stella Collyer, Lay Chaplain, Inveraray

church buildings

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