A Place at the Table

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Six feet long or eight feet long? One leaf, or two? We’ve been asking ourselves these questions as we pick out a new dining room table to replace the one that was ruined in our move to Florida.

Our family of six can sit quite comfortably at a small table, but what about friends? We don’t have many friends yet in our new home, but we hope to. And if we live here for a while, will our sons bring home friends from college, or – gasp – even girlfriends? Or wives? Or grandchildren?

We’ve enjoyed dreaming about the people we don’t know yet, who will someday sit at our table and become our friends and family. God talks a lot about feasting, gathering, and celebrating in the Bible so I would imagine He feels a bit like us, full of anticipation over having all the people He loves together, safe, happy with full bellies and stories to share.

Back in the real world, our table is sometimes the scene of our hardest family moments. I don’t think that is an accident – in fact, gathering around a meal brings many of the most difficult parts about living in a broken world into one setting. The challenges of family dynamics, struggles with food – too much, too little, finish your vegetables, you name it – the bitter reality of anticipating harmonious togetherness and having those expectations fail. Walking in the ways of Jesus rarely comes easily. He modeled for us the importance of fellowship around a table, so should it really surprise us that many things in this world conspire against this togetherness?

“Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said with His people gathered around Him at a table. We eat and drink and talk over a meal because it is good, but also because it is a way of waging war against what the world wants to steal from us.

This Thanksgiving, as we take our places at the tables prepared for us, we can build God’s kingdom as we listen to the Holy Spirit tell us how to love the person across from us and next to us. And we can joyfully anticipate the perfect feast that we will one day attend. Isaiah tells us that “The Lord will prepare a feast of rich food for all nations” (25:6). God’s forever family will be gathered and there will be no disharmony or disappointment. Jesus, who calls us to feasting and celebration, already knows who will be there, and exactly how many leaves He will need in the table.

Take time this week to pray for the members expected to be around your table this Thanksgiving. And check out these verses about friendship, which can help you get in the right mindset as you do so.