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Room at the Table

It’s amazing how gathering around a table and sharing food brings people closer together. Family dinners were always a thing for me growing up. I have four siblings, so five kids, and a big table. I remember all of them. The wooden one with leaves you could add or subtract depending on the size of the crowd. The glass and chrome one that made a brief appearance in the mid to late 80s that was constantly smeared and in need of windex, and the beautiful lengthy wood one carefully chosen at a place called “The Door Store” (go figure) that easily accommodated 8.

Creating space at a table invites people to be included in a shared experience and the incarnational aspects of eating and feeding our physical bodies in unison has the potential to point to things far greater. I can’t help but think of the table of grace that is The Lord’s Supper. In the Wesleyan tradition we practice and “open table” meaning that everyone is invited to the table. There are no prerequisites. You do not have to be a church member or even have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper, is real physical bread and wine (juice) that we eat and drink, however it points to something far beyond itself, the love God has demonstrated to the world through Christ. This love is not exclusive but remarkably and immeasurably inclusive.

img_0834As a kid we had our “places” at the table. If a friend came over we would add another chair and scooch them in next to us. If a parent was missing, inevitably one of my older brothers would move into that space, but not without a fight. 🙂  The beauty of the Lord’s Table is that there is room for everyone. At this meal of grace all are welcome. Just as “Christ died for us while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8) you do not have to clean up to come, just come. The beauty of this invitation is an encounter with  Christ that invites people to come back for more, seconds and thirds, to not just come to your place at the table, but to be changed by the invitation, the communion with Christ and others seeking him and to claim your place by claiming what God has done for us in and through Christ. John Wesley, the man who began the Methodist movement, referred to the Lord’s Supper as a converting sacrament, meaning that participating in it had the potential to lead to conversion or a profession of faith.

What kind of table do you share meals at most? Is there room for more?

How have you experienced the inclusion that the Lord’s Table invites you to? Have you?

A blessing: God thank you for your love made real to us in Jesus Christ and for the place you have invited all of us to meet you and commune with you in the Lord’s Supper. Amen. Let’s eat!

Slow Food

What was your favorite meal growing up? Mine was fondue. It was what I would request for all of my birthdays. In later years we took a hiatus and went out for hibachi, Benihana was a new experience for the special occasion. Soon enough we returned to fondue. These meals were events!

I love slow food–not slow cooking food, but food that takes a long time to eat like fondue, crab legs, peel and eat shrimp, and Japanese hibachi. Food like this is an experience, an event. It creates an even larger space for conversation and connection while lingering over the food. In an era where everything is instant and fast food places serve up something you can eat on the way to whatever is next, slow food is countercultural and goes against the grain. For that reason, in this day and age, I’m calling slow food Christian. 🙂

This past Advent, I think it was Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, my family and I sat down for fondue, we reminisced about the year, gave God glory for all of the highs and recognized where God met us in the lows, it was wonderful. It was so wonderful we agreed we would make this a new tradition and dubbed it “fondue and feelings,” perhaps “fondue and faithfulness” might be more appropriate.

Meal sharing as an event takes place throughout the Scriptures from the Passover, to the Wedding at Cana,  the Last Supper, and the Feast we will share at the Heavenly Banquet Table when the Kingdom of God is fully realized. These meals call to our attention the mysterious quality of shared food and transformational nature of this distinctly incarnational experience.

Is there an “Event” meal you share regularly or a favorite slow food? I’d love to hear your stories!

Enjoy this song from Amanda Opelt about Communion.

A blessing: God of us all, meet us in the food we share. Call us to linger a bit longer savoring the connection between the Giver and those with whom we eat. Amen.

 

At The Table

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?