Did you know that nearly half of parents say they share fewer meals with their family than when they were growing up? Can you guess the number one cause? Technology. The table used to play a much more important role in our homes. Unfortunately, for many, we have let the table lose that place, and it’s time to reclaim the table.
The Supper of Scriptures
From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation scripture is a banquet metaphor spread before the reader. Two of my spiritual mentors, Frank Viola and Len Sweet, mention this illustration quite often.
The significance of the table is so important that God prepared the scriptures as appetizers, entrees, desserts, and every imaginable course in between. It is the bread and spiritual nourishment to the Christian’s walk. The garden, the table, and the wedding feast are all baked into the pages that lie between the leather.
The Psalms paint the picture of a table spread before our enemies. This table or feast can be translated as a seven-course meal. Imagine that for a moment: a seven-course meal out on a battlefield. It is a restoration of peace and order in the midst of chaos.
Are you in the midst of chaos? Table it!
The Gospels show us the incarnate Christ fellowshipping with the social outcasts of His day. In his day and time, to share a meal with someone was one of the most intimate forms of friendship. (And it still is today). Jesus chose the downcast and outcasts as his closest companions to break bread with.
From an overabundance of wine to bursting baskets of left over loaves and fishes, Christ is showing us that God desires to reclaim the table in your life. The incarnate Christ painted the perfect metaphor that the holiness of God desires to fellowship with those the religious elite despise.
In John’s revelation he paints a picture of a Christ who desires to come in and dine with us. He desires to have intimate friendship with you over broken bread.
When was the last time you broke bread with Jesus?
John continues to show us the final wedding feast at the resurrection of all creation. When Christ and his bride are finally united, the feast will be eternal as we fellowship with Christ for all time.
My Fondest Table Memory
I grew up in a broken and dysfunctional home. Meals around a table were a rarity. Actually they were nonexistent, except for the random few years I can remember that we celebrated with a holiday meal at home.
Some of my fondest memories during my high school years were joining my best friend for lunch with his family on Sunday afternoons. I still remember the aroma of the roast and the crunch of the carrots that were Sunday staples.
These gatherings around the table were a weekly oasis to the soul. They were a respite from the ravages of a hellish home life. This time around the table reclaimed the meaning of food, family, and fellowship.
Reclaim Your Table
When was the last time you ate a meal at the table with your family? Oh you eat at the table every day. Ok.
When was the last time you ate together without the TV on, without cellphones, computers, or Ipads?
Reclaim your table! In a world that wants to distract you and pull you at light speed in a thousand different directions, choose to make your table an oasis for the soul for your family.
It’s not about what you eat. It’s about the connection that happens through conversation, the development of family relationships, the valuing of one another, and the healing for mind, body, and spirit. In his book Tablet To Table Len Sweet hits the nail on the head.
The value statement isn’t whether you have money to cook a homemade three-course dinner or whether you pick up take-home from McDonald’s. The value statement is about the choice of spending time together, whether you can find it, at least several times a week, around a table, where you can connect together, talk together, bond together, share food (even if a snack) together. The value statement is about choosing relationships over isolation, making time even when time is scarce. (pg 87-88)
Benefits To Reclaiming The Table
The table is a training ground for relationships, morals, valuing each other, and tasting the seasonings of the soul. Again in Tablet To Table Len says,
We teach our kids at the table how to be “in” the world but not “of” the world…Restoring the table to your home not only strengthens the bonds of your relationship with God and your family members, but it will give you the security, emotional stability, and spiritual maturity to recognize God as the giver of every good gift. When you set the table in your home, you invite all those in your family to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). (pg 101;106)
Reclaiming the table isn’t just about minimizing negative behaviors, but about enhancing good behavior.
There are also studies that point to an increase of positive behaviors, not just the diminishment of negative ones, as an outcome of family dinners. In a New Zealand study, adolescents reported more positive moods when they also participated in a higher frequency of family meals.” – Anne Fishel
The benefits of family dinner depend on a warm and welcoming atmosphere at the table, and the secret sauce that explains most of the benefits comes from the conversation at the table. If children are sitting in stony silence because they are not permitted to eat and talk at the same time, or it there is constant conflict at the table, the associated gains to body, brain, and spirit are nonexistent (Elgar, Craig, & Trites, 2013; Meier & Musick, 2012).”
If you make it a priority to connect with your family through meals around a table, your family will grow to love it.
In one American study, 80% of teenagers cited eating dinner at home as one of their top- rated activities.” -Anne Fishel
4 Ways to Reclaim Your Table
- Be disciplined to schedule meal times. Start with 1 or 2 days per week, and work until you are able to get as many as can accommodate your family schedule.
- Do not allow cell phones, Ipad, laptops, toys, or even books at the table.
- Have everyone discuss their day, and ask open ended questions to spark more conversation.
- Slow down the meal. We have a fast pasted society. Make the table a slow zone.
Watching movies is easy. It’s non-participatory. Going to separate rooms to work or play games is easy. It’s isolating. Eating together at a table develops conversational skills, emotional security, and relational stability. Eating together is participatory.
Reclaim the table for your family. Make the decision to sup together as Christ desires to sup with us. Reclaim your table. Make it a point to remove all technological devices from the table and focus on the family connection.
How is you family meal-time? I would love to hear how you reclaim the table. Share your story below.