I have a confession to make; a good place to start perhaps for a pastor, I took for granted the significance of eating at the table until I had children. After years of eating most meals at home while standing at the counter, while basking in the light of the open refrigerator door, or on the coffee table (my husband literally ate out of pots on the couch!) we moved to the kitchen and dining room tables. I don’t know why, but from birth I put my children at the table when we ate. Some might think my Culinary Arts degree had something to do with this. But no. I suppose I made the move because that’s where I ate growing up. It just made sense, and I remember somewhere someone said you should, “start as you intend to go.”
There are all kinds of statistics about eating less and savoring more when you sit at a table as well as stats about eating meals together as a family. As a result I have gradually become the guardian of all things family dinner. Researchers have found that with each family dinner there are fewer emotional and behavioral problems in children, higher self-esteem, and a greater sense of security. I put my oldest daughter in her car seat, in a chair at the table from birth. It was easily 6 months before she was eating solid food but it seemed important. It was. It is. Something happens around tables. Something happens when you share food around tables. Walls come down. Barriers are broken. People open up and connect in ways they don’t otherwise. A holy communion of sorts.
An invitation to dine together is an invitation to share life. Truly one of the things that unites us as humans is the need to eat and drink. Author and speaker Margaret Feinberg makes the point that “when we stop, sit, and eat with others, we set aside inequality, loneliness, busyness.” Amen. I love Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (NASB).
As a pastor I have witnessed so much the same at the Lord’s Table. This table is a place to connect, with God, and one another. It is a place of grace and intimacy, where walls come down, barriers are removed, and security can be found. This table of grace we are all invited to is one where God’s amazing acts of love in and through Jesus Christ are not only remembered, but realized in the present, and serve as a sign and foretaste of the coming Kingdom. A Kingdom where we will all feast together!
A blessing; Gracious God of love and invitation, thank you for the gift of food and drink to nourish our bodies and our lives. May we know what it is to commune with You and others in its sharing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Where do you eat most of your meals? What are your experiences of sharing food around tables? With family? With friends? With strangers?