There was a tearoom where a waiter in a top hat served fresh scones with lashings of jam and cream, and a lunchroom that looked out onto the first blush of autumn. It was a delightful setting and the food was good but it was the time around the table that was most memorable; time to chat and reminisce, to laugh and to share deeply about life. It passed all too quickly.
These friends have a special place in my heart. Our friendship goes back decades. Six wives met regularly in each other’s homes to pray for each other, our families and our church. We would lunch together and encourage one another. Then three or four times a year we would share an evening meal, husbands included. Twelve of us around the table. Our conversations were rich and deep and there was lots of laughter and celebration, the enjoyment of good food and each other. It was table fellowship.
That’s the thing about memorable meals, they feed more than the body; they feed the soul.
… they invited their neighbours to share their precious meal.
Food and relationship, the two essentials of life, knitted together around a table. Maybe that’s why Jesus had a habit of turning up at tables.
He ate with sinners and misfits, demonstrating his love. He sat at the table with Pharisees and showed them what compassion looked like and around that same table he taught them about humility and encouraged them to show hospitality to those who had no way of returning the favour. As his life drew to a close, he invited the twelve men he loved most dearly to a meal around a table, to share his heart.
Jesus met people at the most central and ordinary place of human connection, the humble table.
I grew up in a home with a mother who constantly required us to hurry up and eat our dinner. The minute we’d finished the last morsel, our plate was whisked away so we could get washed up and the kitchen cleaned. I learned to “get a wriggle on” as she used to say.
I still eat far too quickly, but somewhere along the path of life I’ve come to value the meal table as a sacred place ... a place of communion. A place where I can offer, not just food and hospitality, but myself.
A place of safety where people can share their stories, their burdens and their joys. A place where they feel heard, whether that’s the excited outpouring of a child’s day or the struggling questions of a mate. A place of laughter and relaxation and that, its-good-to-be-home feeling.
I wonder what our children are learning day by day as they eat at our meal table? I suspect we teach more then we realise ... good and not so good. I once read about an employer who, on trying to decide whether to employ someone, would take them out for a meal. They watched what the future employee ordered, how they spoke to the waiter, how they ate and how they handled conversation. A meal table is a place of revelation.
But creating beautiful memories around a meal table is worth the effort and maybe we follow closest in the footsteps of Jesus when our table becomes a place of communion, where we share our food and ourselves with love, grace and gratitude.
What will people look back on with fond memories of times around your table? What is your most memorable meal?
Please leave a comment and share your memories.