At the Table - Why Eating Together Matters

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“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” Acts 2:46 (ESV)

His gnarled, arthritic hands struggle to hold the fork. It irritates him that the simple act of lifting fork to mouth, a task he has done well, without thought, for over nine decades is now a difficult one. In the time it takes us to eat an entire plateful, he has only managed four small bites. If we leave the table at this point, he gives up and eats no more. So, we stay. We slow down our own eating. We talk between bites about this and that, about life in all its beauty and idiosyncrasies. And, over the course of an hour, he finishes. Cleans his plate. We find we’ve not only fed our bodies but our hearts as well at this slowed-down family meal.

He has now passed on to Heaven and is enjoying a new body without arthritic hindrances. In his place are new folk living with us for a season and sharing our table. Children still learning to grasp their forks, bibbed and sometimes clumsy. They, too, eat slowly. They chatter as we eat, full of information about dragons and ninjas, butterflies and snakes. With wonder in their eyes, they speak as their food grows cold. They, too, need our help to finish the job and clean their plates. As we slow down, talk and laugh with them, together we feed our bodies and our hearts at the table.

Our God, I believe, smiles on the family dinner table, where conversation flows and patience and grace are exercised. The sanctifying of His people doesn’t always come from sermons and well-worded books. It can be found in the patient listening to another. In the stopping to cut someone’s meat. In the waiting and the sharing and the slowing.

Another wonderful value of family time around the table is that in some small way our meals together look forward to one of our great joys to come—the great Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The feasting and company at that table will be rich beyond compare. Even as Jesus was breaking bread to symbolize His soon-to-be broken body, He, too, was looking ahead to that great day: “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes’” (Luke 22:14-18 ESV).

I lift my glass of water, today, to the beauty and grace of the dinner table: a place to love one another, experience the joy of togetherness, and look forward to the great supper to come with the Lamb of God!

Father God, today I thank You for the blessing of food enough to satisfy. I thank You for the lessons learned from eating together. I thank You for the eager yearning Your Words have stirred in my heart for the day when I sit at the table with the Lamb Himself! In His Name, Amen.

Originally written by Sharon Gamble for Sweet Selah Ministries. Used with permission.