Our table is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our home. My husband and I rescued it from the back corner of a warehouse furniture store. It came with a little “character” already scratched into the top but it caught our eye immediately.
Choosing the right table was important to us because our table is often the hub of our home. It’s the place we gather on good days and bad. It’s where we talk, laugh, and sometimes tackle hard questions. It’s the place we practice our manners and serve one another. It’s where ordinary moments occur and memories are made.
The beauty of the table is that it can go beyond our immediate family if we allow it to. When we expand our table we are expanding our hearts as well. When those outside of our family pull up a chair we are providing a place for them to belong and experience God’s love.
Our dining room table is not only a place of physical nourishment but a tool that can be used for ministry and growth in the lives of those who gather around it.
The New Testament is full of examples of ordinary moments centered around the table. Jesus often gathered with His disciples there. In fact, it was one of the last things He did with them before his crucifixion. The early church also shared many meals together. Community and relationships were central to ministry and growth.
“When Jesus wanted to explain to his followers the meaning of his death, he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.” N.T. Wright
What can we do to cultivate a life centered around the table?
First of all, make time around the table a priority. In our modern culture of hurry, finding time to be around the table can be tricky. Our calendars fill up leaving us running through each week on survival mode. What would it look like to stand up against the norm and fight for regular table-time with your family? What would happen if we began to make it a priority? Making time around the table has the potential to bring peace, communication, and so much more. Start with committing to one or two nights a week and go from there. You may be amazed at what a little table time with your family can do.
Next, be intentional about table discussion. The planning and preparation don’t end once all the food is on the table. Give some thought to questions you might ask at the dinner table. For our family, we often share our “highs and lows” from each day and go from there. My husband and I are also honest in our sharing and participation too.
“Sharing spiritually from open hearts around a table almost never happens unless someone in the group is intentional and initiating. Someone has to lead the way, to begin the act of sharing and to prompt others to share as well.” – Sally Clarkson
Lastly, Invite others in. Use your table to create community and minister to others. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef. Your main goal should be creating an environment where people feel valued and like they belong. Honor others by inviting them to your table and then once they are there, love them well.
May your table be a place in your home where physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met not just this Holiday Season, but into the coming years as well.
At the Table,
Nicki Behnke (More of Nicki’s writings can be found at reallifeinreverse.blogspot.com)