I actually did some research for this post. Gasp! Yep, I sure did, because this topic is so near near and dear to me, and the world we live in needs facts to back up theories. I get it. And I want this topic to be taken seriously to those who read it.
Romans 12:13 “Share with God’s people in need. Practice hospitality”.
Webster defines dinner as the main meal or principal meal of the day, a usually large formal event in which dinner is eaten. In the past, dinner has been a feast or banquet. Now, it doesn’t take long to figure out that I love having people over for dinner. It’s something God has put down deep in my soul as a desire, a way to serve Him and other people. Sharing a meal together is something that brings people closer together, allows for fellowship and unity, if only for a short while. But, as we get busier and busier, our willingness to stop, sit and eat has become a very low priority. Why do you think that is? Well, I have a few theories. The rise in fast food options allows for us to “eat on the run” so we can be more productive and get more items checked off of our to-do lists. The increase use of technology and social media is leaving us with nothing to talk about over dinner because we are already caught up in people’s lives via their Facebook posts or Instagram pics. There is no longer an organic answer to “what’s new with you” anymore. The busier we get, the more on-line we are, the less we need to gather around a table and share our lives.
Growing up, we always ate dinner together, every night. No tv, no music, just a plate of food in front of us and family on each side. My mom would ask about school, our sports, our friends, homework, etc. because that’s when the time allotted for those conversations. There is something magical about gathering around a table and sharing a meal, words and fellowship just pour out of us. We learn about other people, ask questions and listen intently, because, in my opinion, we have nothing else to do at dinner time than to eat and be around others! We have no where else to go, that time is carved out for that meeting, nothing else matters for that 60 minutes. But for today’s family, eating dinner together has become a thing of the past.
For the average American family, who now spends nearly as much money on fast food as they do on groceries, this simplicity (having dinner together) is not so easily achieved. I read a very heart warming article that just touched my soul, by an author who writes for DTS Magazine, a man by the name of Barry D. Jones. His words resonated so much with me, about how much of a blessing a table is to a home, and what it symbolizes in our relationships. Whether you use your kitchen or dining room table for storage, decor or you actually eat at it on a regular basis, Jones’ article has merit in your life. His article “The Dinner Table as a Place of Connection, Brokenness and Blessing“, really hit home for me as something that I hope to achieve in my home, that dinner is not just dinner, but an invitation to connect, listen, encourage and bless one another. Here’s an excerpt from the article I would like to share with you:
“More than a decade later, when the time came to replace the pub table with something that better suited our growing family, we could not bring ourselves to get rid of it. After countless meals together, often shared with family and friends, that table had become an icon of God’s grace and goodness. To take up a place at that table was to occupy sacred space. The people we loved most sat with us there. Meals were shared. Stories were told. Sins were confessed. We laughed together and cried together. Together we remembered where we’d been, and we dreamed of where we might one day go. We prayed at that table. And there we experienced God’s nearness, God’s kindness, and God’s love. Sharing tables is one of the most uniquely human things we do. No other creature consumes its food at a table. And sharing tables with other people reminds us that there’s more to food than fuel. We don’t eat only for sustenance”.
Jones then goes on to discuss the table as a place of connection, blessing, brokenness and my personal favorite and what I related to the most, a place of givenness. Here’s what Jones had to say about givenness:
“As Christians, we are a people who are blessed, broken, and given. This latter aspect of our identity reminds us that as God’s people, we are given to the world—called to represent him. God’s mission is to rescue and renew his good but broken creation, and we are swept up into that mission and called to participate in it by announcing and embodying the love of God in Christ.
I’m convinced that our dinner tables have the potential to be the most “missional” places in all of our lives. Perhaps before we invite people to Jesus or invite them to church, we should invite them to dinner. If table fellowship is a spiritual discipline that is vital for shaping and sustaining our life with God for the world, we need to make a point to share our tables with people who are in our lives but far from God. This was one of the most distinctive aspects of Jesus’s ministry”.
Like Jones, food is my love language. Cooking a meal for someone, sharing my home and table with them, is something I look forward to every day. My thoughts and priorities shift when I know we are having people over for a meal. I want them to feel welcome in my home, and safe to share my table. I could talk to someone, whether a close friend, family or a new face for hours over a home cooked meal, a cup of coffee or dessert. It’s who God has created me to be. People always ask me if I’m sure I want to host or have so many people in my home over for dinner. And my answer to them? Yes! And Jones’ article explains the “why” so well. The best way I have to show love to someone, is to prepare a meal for them, to put countless hours into making sure every detail is as close to perfect as it can be. Food, dinner, is not just fuel for our bodies. Like Jones wrote, we don’t eat just for sustenance, but the act of dinner, sitting around a table and enjoying a meal with others, it feeds our souls. And recharges us in this thing called life. It brings us closer to our loved ones. Something as simple as a table can be the lead in some of our life’s biggest moments, and we don’t even notice it happening.
I encourage you, dear reader, to dust off your kitchen table, make room for dinner in your life. Make it a priority in your day to day to actually sit down and eat dinner. Invite a co-worker over for a meal, unplug your kids’ phones for 60 minutes and actually talk to them about their day, learn about who they are. Ask that single man or woman at church, who sits by themselves every Sunday, over for a home cooked meal and extend an act of kindness in hopes to make someone feel welcome in your life and in your home. Bless someone. Encourage someone. Love someone. Use that kitchen table for what it was designed for, and I promise you, it will change your life.
” The table is the place where broken sinners find connection and belonging. Despite our best intentions, we all, like Peter, stumble after Jesus. We desperately need people who will journey with us in our stumbling. We need to recover table fellowship as a spiritual discipline in order to strengthen the bonds of spiritual friendship among believers who are walking together on the road of discipleship”.
Until next time….
Have a fabulous day!