Most of us can fondly recall times we gathered with family or friends around a table for a wonderful meal. I think of my dad’s famous pot roast and mashed potatoes with gravy, always the centerpiece of family celebrations. Of my husband’s and my first Thanksgiving away from home, shared by charitable strangers soon to become fast friends from church. Coming together for a meal, to a table laden with food is one of life’s unsung blessings. But, it is also an increasingly lost opportunity.
The table itself is both place and metaphor. It is a fixed place to come, hungry, expectant, and grateful, made ready for us, a safe place to learn to try new things. The table is sanctuary. It gives us the opportunity to be fully present to the people in our midst, where we have and can take the time to share our lives, a lived-out story, a testimony. The table is school, for it is at the table we learn, face to face, loving ways to accept and forgive one another, to confront pressing issues, and to practice reconciliation and civility. Most importantly, the table is a place to leave filled, satisfied, challenged, and sent. The table gives us room for fellowship and learning ways to share our faith as a fundamental place for sharing the gospel; the table is mission. And, it is journey shared routinely with those we love most.
But, we live in a time focused on individualism, a concept that is contrary to the communal nature and nurture of the Christian faith. And so, eating together on a regular basis is one important way we worship together in gratitude to God, share our Christian testimony, enfold unbelievers in the reality of the Gospel, and rest in God’s presence.
It is my hope that here, in these pages, you may find encouragement to carefully consider a life founded upon Christian practices that help us grow together in our faith, actions like worship, Scriptural teaching, fellowship, hospitality, co-mission, and the breaking of bread.
You will recognize, as the weeks go by, that there is a clear call to attend to these shared practices as the way we look for God and to him in every life situation-together.
It is my prayer that this project itself acts as a meal, that we may use these ideas and practices,to share meals at our tables. So, by all means, share the link and invite others to the table!
Blessings to you,
Julie A.P.Walton, Ph.D.