The Table Makers Will Overcome The Wall Builders

The table makers are winning.

Yes, the wall builders will always get the attention.

Discord sells.
Bitterness makes the news.
Hatred garners clicks.

Acts of violence and expressions of enmity and movements of malice so easily trend.

Those who build walls know this.

Right now it can seem like the wall builders are winning, because they are so loud and so prominent—but we table makers know better.

We’re here on the ground every day, shoulder to shoulder with other disparate human beings, wooden planks and hammers in hand. We’re here doing the difficult, messy work of making something beautiful; something that is not exclusionary, not generated by fear, not intend to divide—something motivated by a sense of abundance and not of lack.

We are in our local communities, expanding the table there, so that weary people can come and rest, so that terrified people can find refuge, so they can be fed, so they can be seen and heard and loved—so that they know they are worth welcoming.

Every day, we are listening to stories of people whose experience of the world or America or Church or religion are different from our own, and doing so without fanfare or news coverage.

And the table expands.

We are reaching across the imagined divides and manufactured crises of the wall builders, and finding the greatest commonalities on which to base our days and expend our energies.

And the table expands.

We are transcending faith tradition and political affiliation, and we are becoming something far more expansive and much deeper than those things could ever be; building on the elemental bedrock of our shared humanity.

And the table expands.

And as we collaborate and make and build, there is joy and revelation and beauty all around.

This weekend I visited Rochester, Minnesota, and on a brutal sub-zero stretch of weather, hundreds of people gathered together to remind one another of what we’re all building together; that even though we may be geographically separated, we are a single community, despite what the wall builders say.

We shared stories and affirmed one another’s humanity, and we mined hope in the truth that diversity is always going to make us better, that compassion is always going to be the better path—that tables, not walls are our most pressing need.

At one point in our gathering, a young man named Abdi stood with the mic and said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to come here tonight. I’m Muslim, and I just want to say ‘thank you, man. Thank you for your message. I’m Muslim and you’re Christian and we have a lot in common, we’re not so different, and I appreciate you. Thank you.”

Abdi is a table maker. In days when the wall builders so often tend to be white Christian pastors, he walked into a Christian church to listen to a white pastor, and he affirmed the humanity that he saw there. He expanded the table with his presence.

The wall builders don’t want you to know about young men like Abdi, or about organizations like Project Legacy that he participates in, or about faith communities like Peace United Church of Christ who hosted us, or about the thousands upon thousands of groups contributing to the barrier breaking movements taking place all over this country every single day.

They don’t want you to see just how many people are building the tables here in America, because that is the perfect love that casts out fear—and fear is all they have to broker in and build upon.

Today, look around you.
See the builders in your community, take note of the beautiful acts of collaboration and inclusion, and let that news be the thing that trends in your head.

Build a better newsfeed to motivate you and encourage you; one that reminds you that the table makers are winning.

They will continue to build, in the face of those who would destroy.

They will always overcome the walls.


11 thoughts on “The Table Makers Will Overcome The Wall Builders

  1. “Right now it can seem like the wall builders are winning, because they are so loud and so prominent—but we table makers know better.”

    We do know better. The Holy Spirit tells us this every moment. Granted the noise-makers have making noise done to an artform that dominates, but the voices of bullies are always the loudest while those who are actually getting good stuff done just get n with it without attracting attention to themselves.

    For those looking for one, there is a community of tablemakers at

  2. Beautiful! Thank you for writing this piece, John. My book club just re-read 1984. After discussing the modern day connections to this (frightening!) novel, I sent your quote to my book club pals, “Build a better newsfeed to motivate and encourage you; one that reminds you the tablemakers are winning.” Thank you, for being you, John. Simply and humbly, thank you for your words and inspiration.

  3. Thank you so much for this reminder. It’s so tempting to just give in to the pessimism and hopelessness the media likes to traffic in. There are good people doing good things in this world, and I need to remember that.

  4. “Why do good fences make good neighbors?
    …Good neighbors respect one another’s property. Good farmers, for example, maintain their fences in order to keep their livestock from wandering onto neighboring farms. This proverb appears in the poem “Mending Wall,” by Robert Frost.”

  5. Pingback: Emergency, Explaining Jesus, Tables, Walls, Witch Hunt, Stacey Abrams –

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  7. You’ve nailed it. I can feel for Abidi and can understand why he said what he said. The immense respect and emotion he will have for you after this is speechless. After all we are humans and must learn to respect and appreciate each other. The first image I saw made me stop for almost a minute, there was this pretty black lady, but she was black! The way you’re bringing people together is commendable!!

  8. Freedom has boundaries! Your “Progressive” movement doesn’t. You should learn the difference between “Freedom” and “Autonomy”. Just like there’s a difference between children of God and cult leaders!

  9. I’ve made 2019 the year of helping/assisting/volunteering on my inspirational blog. Both my experience and that of the people whose stories I tell agree with your table-expanding mission. When we ask God to give us eyes to see the needs, he’ll answer in surprising ways, and will enrich our lives right along with the people we’re helping.

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