“Together is a wonderful place to be.” This simple but true sentiment graced a card that a friend recently sent me. Though long digested, the Wednesday lunch meal we shared around my table of stuffed acorn squash, story telling, laughter, and tears keeps giving life to me.
Whenever I set my heart in the direction of inviting others to my table, I’m going for the reward of life giving relationships nourished by the love of God.
Whether it’s simply Wednesday or the stunning celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday, our tables are waiting to nourish friends and strangers with God’s love. To prepare a table isn’t about controlling details with Pinterest perfection.
Cultivating beauty is wonderful. Just remember that preparation is the practice of faith. To honor the worth of my table is to lean into trusting that Jesus is the true host.
I keep setting my heart in the direction of hospitality because it’s a way to follow my Lord Jesus. From birth to post-resurrection Christ’s life shouts, “Live at the table.” Of course, Jesus needed food, and so do we.
But why do we need to gather at our tables? Why did Jesus need to? Does your table have a purpose beyond providing a surface for a platter of pasta?
Before you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember the size of your table is irrelevant but its function is miraculous. On that Wednesday, the first thing my friends did at the table was sit down. So obvious a gesture we often miss what sitting down does for us. Sitting down is a posture that enables us to receive the gifts of the table. Receiving is a humble posture that acknowledges, “I need food and I need you.” It literally sets us up for the communal life we are made for. To be seated is ultimately to belong.
Tables create proximity. I enjoy eating a hot dog with my grandson at the baseball stadium with thousands of other fans, but it’s a qualitatively different experience to eat ice cream together at my kitchen table. I call it “withness.” As I watch his eyes dance, we share a bond of creamy vanilla joy. It’s face to face. I met a new Indian family in our neighborhood. Now my heart aims for the timely opportunity to be with them at my table. Admittedly, that step will ask me to go beyond my comfort zone, but I am choosing to focus on the reward of being with them.
Tables also create a pause. The grab-and-go airport Kiosk provides the madness of eating on the run. So do our minivans. We are so good at grab-and-go. But the tables in our homes call us to the refreshing gift of a pause, together. Time together nourishes the soul. Time together surprises us with discoveries we wouldn’t have made any other way.
Meals are God’s metronome designed to bind us to the Father’s love.
The gospel itself is about Jesus hosting the feast of salvation. I marvel how Jesus persistently pursues us. After having an intimate meal with his disciples, He entered the anguish of Gethsemane. The disciples abandoned Him. Alone, Jesus suffered and died.
Sunday morning the stone rolled away. Our Risen Savior didn’t go to the synagogue; He went to a home. His distraught disciples hunkered there in fear. But their terror turned to joy when Jesus asked for fish to eat. They knew how to nurture His body and offer friendship for His soul.
Holy week invites us to set our hearts in a direction. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” Perhaps you are starting to think about the table you will share. Let’s be willing and amazed that God wants to take our little place of home and table to honor the Risen King.
I can hear Christ calling his followers, “Go and prepare.” Listen to his prompting. Remember. Celebrate. Linger at a love feast. Christ is Risen!
Joanne and her husband Roger, who is a pastor, regularly practice hospitality by inviting friends and strangers to enjoy a simple meal of soup, bread, and a scoop of sherbet. She has spoken on hospitality nationally, and for 20 years was on the speaker team of Family Life Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. Her passion for homemade bread complements her love for tandem biking and cross-country skiing. The Thompsons have two daughters and live in Minneapolis. You can find her online at TableLifeBook.com.