The other night my husband and I shared a lively potluck dinner with a group of friends from our church. It was a delightful time of laughing, catching up, sharing significant things in our lives, goofing around, and yes … eating wonderfully delicious food!
This evening Peter and I are going out to a Thai restaurant for a quiet dinner at the invitation of a friend. She just wants to say thanks to us for spending time with her when she needed some heart healing and love.
Eating is something we all do on a regular basis. It happens when we are alone, with others, in a variety of settings. By the time the average person reaches 70 years of age they will have spent about 6 of those years eating! Amazing!
The Bible is full of references to eating: there were lots of feasts and festivals. Abraham entertained 3 men who turned out to be angels. Jesus fed great crowds and often enjoyed intimate meals with close friends. He ate a final Passover meal with his followers before he left them. The disciples gathered together to eat after the crucifixion and death of their best friend. Jesus set up a fish-fry on the beach for his nearest and dearest after his resurrection. There are many references to the great banquet that will take place when Jesus returns.
If I think about the numerous stories in the Bible, and reflect on my own experience in daily life, I know without a doubt that God intended our eating times to be about more than just food.
Watch next time you are seated at a meal table with family or friends. Take note of people at a party where food and drink are being served. Watch what takes place at a business meeting that’s held around a luncheon table. People open up, tension ebbs, inhibitions lessen, the masks tend to fall away, people share creative ideas.
Eating together provides opportunities for sharing and instruction. Reconciliation can take place. Fellowship and prayer can happen. Recounting of the day’s experiences or discussion of serious topics of interest occurs. Being able to partake of food and drink is a physical reminder that God is with us – He is our provider. It is a way to remember, to give thanks, to comfort, to bless.
Expanding our table to include others beyond our family and friends allows us to share the love of God and to model His unconditional acceptance. Opening our homes lets us give and receive, serve and be served. It is a privilege and an opportunity.
I remember seeing a plaque in my grandparents’ kitchen years ago. Even as a child I knew that sharing mealtimes in their home was a significant activity that went far beyond the food and drink. The words reminded all who entered their home of their belief. “Christ is the unseen guest at our table and the silent listener to every conversation.”
Creating human beings that need to eat was God’s idea. Let’s make the most of every opportunity. Six years out of seventy is a lot of time!