Come to the Table




I hadn’t thought much about the privilege of being invited to someone’s table.

I found a plastic bin under my bed.  When I snapped the top open, I discovered hundreds of loose photographs that needed to be organized.

A special old photo of sitting at a table with my sister caught my eye.  She took me house hunting with her during one of my visits to Chicago.  We spotted a local housing development that featured beautiful new homes and we inspected the layout of a model home and relaxed in the furniture!  The dated photo reveals archaic décor with mauve and gold accessories and paisley drapes.  Funny how we drooled over that style several decades ago!  

I stared at the photo of us posing at the table.  My sister had a way of expressing her affection for me as she raised her glass and toasted:  "I am excited you're here with me.  I look forward to our upcoming days together shopping, cooking, planning family dinners and casually hanging out together."

Our glasses may have been empty, but I felt loved as we sat there at the table together planning and laughing.

The Invitation at Church
The popular guest speaker at my church last month has a knack for presenting God’s love to his audience.  He quoted from the Ninth Chapter of 2 Samuel, the story about David and Jonathan’s close friendship.  He articulated a palace scene of the king dining at the table, experiencing true fellowship.

Who Can I Bless?
David asked if any of Jonathan’s relatives survived after war took his friend’s life.  Thus enters the character of Mephibosheth.   The only remaining son of Jonathan dropped by his nurse as a baby and lame for life, Mephibosheth represents those of us in need of love, acceptance and a savior.  King David invites his best friend’s son to come to his table to be cared for and loved.

Our church embraced the message.  Many responded by coming to the table for prayer for their depression, for their addictions, for their brokenness or just a touch from God.

That’s Not All!
Our pastor developed a mid-week Bible Study based on this message for those who want to come to the table and hear of God’s love for them every Wednesday night.  But that’s not all!

Hours before the mid-week Bible study, our church gym transforms into a dining room feeding anywhere from sixty to seventy-five of us.   It takes effort and many hands.  Some grill the food, some set up tables, some, usually the guys, carry heavy trays of food to the buffet tables.  Some greet at the door, some clean the kitchen and when it’s all over, the group cleans up!  Various life groups from our church take a turn every week to make "coming to the table" happen.

Our particular life group put the show on a few weeks ago.  The organized details impressed me. Our group enjoyed the adventure of serving.

I experienced something wonderful.

This happened for me
Each member of our life group received a slip of paper telling us when we can break away from our duties and grab dinner at one of the tables.  I got in the buffet line with the girl I worked with in the kitchen.  We filled our dinner plates and hunted for a seat.  Her friend quickly grabbed her at a table leaving me behind.  I hadn’t a chance to search for a seat yet when all of a sudden, a new friend tugged my arm and invited me to her family’s table where I not only got to know them better but others who attend our church as well!

The concept never gets old.  The invitation to dine with others draws us close not only to each other but to the endless love of God.

Have you dined at the table with anyone recently?  I’d love to hear about it!

Comments

  1. Sharing a meal at the table with someone, or a group of people, is a wonderful way to communicate and to share some good food. I haven't done it recently (unless you consider having a coffee and a muffin with a friend at McDonald's in this category). Even though it may not be in my home or her home, we still enjoy each other's company and the time we share together.

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  2. Beautiful picture of two loving sisters!

    In our jewish religion we have what's called a 'Tisch' ('table' in Yeddish). It means sitting at a table , surrounded by food and words of Torah. A Rabbi's tisch (like your pastor's table) is much more than that. It is to share food and Torah learning on Saturday (Sabbath). I personally never attended such a gathering. In principle, I'm not a fan of organized religion.

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  3. I like the photo!

    I have my husband's family coming to the table for 4th of July. It's a tradition started by my Grandma when I was young. Now it's mine. Everybody comes here for the 4th. :)

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  4. How neat with the dining at the table your church does on the mid week Bible studies! Such great fellowship indeed! We dined tonight with son and family. We usually dine Sunday nights with them. They have had struggles and I was thinking new ways of dining would be happening, but I see the Lord's tremendous hand working and for that I'm forever grateful to him. I hope many opportunities come for dining in the days, weeks, months, years ahead.

    betty

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  5. Your post gave me much to think about, Mary. The whole time I was reading this I thought about the sacrament of Communion--when we come to Jesus' table to fellowship with Him and with others who have chosen to follow Him. During Holy Week my husband serves communion at tables set for 12, like the last supper. Your post has brought a whole new perspective to the practice of "Come to the Table" during Communion. Thanks, Mary.

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  6. This image reminds me of that olden song, "Moments to Remember"!

    Your congregation's observances touch my heart, and make me realize how almost isolationist we've become. Thank you for sharing this practice!

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  7. This is such a nce post and i love that you made us see what's happening in different areas of the world's church. It's so cool that Christians are always welcoming and enjoying fellowship---this is what we need today, just fellowship and encouragement from all the chaos we get everyday.

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  8. Oh, what a wonderful post! It made me sad to think of how the photo and memories must have hurt as you think of your dear sister and miss her. I love how you took the post and thoughts in such a positive, encouraging direction. I am thinking of you, dear friend, and praying for you, too. Sending love and hugs to you!!

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  9. What a blessing it was to read here this morning, Mary. I think of you often and the loss you feel with your sister now waiting for you in heaven. Your finding the picture of the two of you sitting at this table in a model home is precious. One would never know that it wasn't in one of your homes and that you were about partake of a delicious meal together. But then I love how God has worked the "being loved" theme further in your life! Very precious.......very precious indeed. Love you, Sister!

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  10. When we were younger food was a necessity to get down your throat and out the door. Something is special about breaking bread with others. It is an action that requires closeness. All things designed by God have so much depth and beauty. Even the cleaning up shared by others brings people close.

    Next time we meet, tell Tom it's for lunch!

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  11. Oh. And yes. I love that picture of you and your big sis. What a blessing.

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  12. Last night at a wedding we sat with 7 others whom we had never met - It was so much fun getting to know each other and how we were all connected to the bride and groom...and also discovering that it's a "small world"!!

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  13. During the time of Jesus, eating with someone is a big deal because it means you are equal with them or you're friends. That's why it was a scandal when He would dine with sinners.

    Great perspective!

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  14. How precious that a picture brought back such beautiful memories, and that you were again able to make a new memory with a new friend at your church! Amazing how the Lord works details out like that, to bring a message home to us. Hugs :)

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  15. I enjoyed this post, from the start of the picture of you and your sister, to the beautiful way you share God`s love at your church with having many at your table for both food and God`s word!! That`s really His love in action! Great to read about all your shared tables!!!
    I will see my sister this summer after not meeting her for a long time, and she is just moving into a new house so your photo made me smile ! Am inspired by your post to invite more people to our Shabbat table!! Who can we bless? I really like that question you wrote!

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