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A table for the Lord’s house

February 18, 2014 No Comment


by Leonardo Neitzel

It’s remarkable how the Lord provides His people with good gifts and works through the seemingly small actions of his servants. Members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winnipeg saw this clearly in December, when a table was dedicated for use in the church.

What’s so important about a table? Perhaps, at a first and superficial glance, not much. But when we look deeper, when we take a closer look at the history behind this table and the faithful servant who built and donated it, its significance becomes clear.

There was in the basement of Immanuel Lutheran Church a piano. It had given long service in the church, but one day, its sounding-board cracked. It was no longer tunable, and therefore no longer useable. A member of the church board, Lynn Simcox, undertook the work of dismantling the piano. He knew that congregation member Adolph Judt (better known as Al), often worked with recycled material, and asked whether he would be able to use the material from the piano. The answer was an obvious “yes!”

Rev. Richard Beinert and Al Judt following the December dedication of Al’s table.

Rev. Richard Beinert and Al Judt following the December dedication of Al’s table.

When Al received the parts from the piano his mind went into action. He saw what it could become. He invested time, effort and love into it, and transformed it into a table for use in the Lord’s house. He let his imagination fly as he turned the mahogany wood into more than just a mere table, incorporating various Biblical symbols into it as he worked.

After the dedication of the table, Al explained its significance in this way: “I made sure to have it display two significant elements: the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus.” He continued: “There are three crosses, with Christ’s at the centre. And on the back is the symbol of the empty tomb. You look to the cross through the perspective of the empty tomb.”

Luthers-rose-imgTo be sure, this table is just another material element for use in a local Winnipeg congregation; but that’s exactly what Al intended for it. He knows that a table is just wood. It’s no substitute for the means of grace. It’s not some fourth person of the Holy Trinity. But it will nevertheless be a blessing to those who see it, to those who use it on special occasions, like weddings at Immanuel. As it holds candles, displays Christian literature, and performs a myriad other duties, this little table will stand as a testimony to faith in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. The symbols of the cross and the empty tomb will remain, a profession of Al’s personal faith in Jesus Christ and a public proclamation of the Gospel to others.

There is a great richness in using biblical symbols and imagery as aids to faith, and the Lutheran church has long recognized the value of such things. A great example can be seen in Martin Luther’s Rose. For this seal is, in fact, a symbol of the Christian faith in a nutshell (see side bar).

There is a great richness in using biblical symbols and imagery as aids to faith, and the Lutheran church has long recognized the value of such things.

Symbols help to illustrate the Gospel for us. They open up opportunities for us to reflect on the story and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And they can provide teaching moments too, as pastors and other church leaders explain how these images reflect the stories of Scripture. In our church as well as in our homes, Christian symbols are a way to witness our faith in Christ.

Al’s table will function in just such a way in the years to come. What is more, Al’s table not only includes Christian symbols on it; the very way in which it was made is also a symbol for us! Al found out that something destined for trash could be cleansed and made to be useful. What a lesson! In the same way, God picked us up when we were broken sinners, and made us into something new. God gives life even for cracked pianos! Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are new creations!

The table is just one of Al’s art contributions to his congregation. May his work—and the work of Christians in our congregations—remind us to value the use of Christian symbols in the places we live and worship. We thank God for distributing His gifts to His people so abundantly, that through them His glory may be made manifest to many. All of us have a place in the service of the Lord’s kingdom. The Apostle Peter puts it this way: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Under God’s direction, our very lives can become a symbol to the world around us the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Like Al, let us use the gifts, time and talents God has given us to build something truly wonderful for the Lord’s house!


Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel is Lutheran Church–Canada’s Executive for Missions and Social Ministry.

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