“Dine with me.” That’s the month of November. A time of family, friends, and food. The culinary extravaganza of the holidays begins! Food menus are planned, and the shopping and cooking tasks explode: my sons’ favorite kielbasa and pierogi, the traditional Christmas brunch of quiche and crepes, Dad’s Welsh cookies, my sister’s stollen. And all of it will be piled on and enjoyed at our dining room table.
My grandmother’s table is the focal point of our feeding frenzy. The table dominates our dining room as it has for the past eighty years. Except during a few difficult years when the dining room converted into a hospital room and the table took up residence elsewhere in the house, the drop leaf mahogany with claw feet has seated five generations of my family.
Every life event for all these generations has centered around the old drop leaf. Last Thanksgiving twenty of us squeezed around the table with the aid of an additional length from another old model. Now, shaky and unstable, I wonder how long we can continue to re-screw and re-bolster before our dining room table goes the way of our older generations.
Hospitality has been practiced here. Distant relatives, children’s
birthday parties, neighbors, school chums, church friends, book club, new acquaintances, committees—a parade of hundreds through the years. My excitement always peaks as I dig out Nana’s china, find an appropriate centerpiece, and iron Mom’s embroidered napkins, for I am anticipating the joy of sharing food and my table with others. No mission field has been more fertile.
In ancient cultures, the meal was a setting for blessing, too. Around a meal elder members of the family would pass on approval, guidance, and wisdom. Time together meant connection and intimacy among family members and their guests, a private sharing of lives. And this is what grandma’s mahogany drop leaf has become for us through the years … a haven for deeper relationships, family stability, and love. Our table is a place to feed our spirits with God’s best even when we may be fed up with life.
The Bible states that it is the desire of Jesus to dine with us. He seeks intimacy and connection with us over the table of our daily lives. He wants to listen and ask, “So tell me about your day. What made you happy? What challenges did you face? What is heavy on your heart?” Of course, Jesus knows the answers to those questions, but He wants us to talk. He wants us to pour out our concerns, joys, and failures. He seeks a dinner table kind of fellowship with us.
Scripture continually affirms Jesus’ desire to sit and sup with those He loves. Consider the night before His death when the last and most beautiful fellowship He wanted with His friends was over a table where He enacted the brokenness and giving of His life for them. Then, there is the promise of heaven’s highlight … a wedding feast between Jesus and us, His church. The finest moments of life and eternity take place around a table.
A wedding feast? A last supper? Why would Jesus, God’s Son, seek such intimacy with dinner companions whom the critics of His day, and even our day, considered less than desirable? Love is the only answer … His unwavering desire to bring a divine, faithful, abiding love to the table of our lives.
I am reminded of my kitchen table in China where I lived for a while. The table was a perfect four-square. I thought the drawers on each side were a nice addition—a place to keep vitamins, silverware, papers. But one day a visitor at my table showed me something unexpected. He lifted the top of the table and flipped it over, revealing a complete mahjong board. The drawers were for each player’s tiles. God knows our hidden sins and problems, yet He still chooses to eat at the mahjong tables and mahogany drop leafs of our lives. Such love.
Open the door to the One who knows you best. Invite Him to sit at your table. Blessings abound when we eat with Jesus. And for this we are … forever thankful.
A teacher for over thirty years, Jo Ann Walczak also spent a year teaching English in China, where she returned several times to work in an orphanage. She produces “The Voice of Hope,” a weekly blog talk radio program for Mandarin speakers: www.blogtalkradio.com/voiceofhope . She loves leading women’s Bible studies in her church and spending time with her six grandchildren. Visit her blog, “On Layton: The View from My Front Porch,” at www.joannjoneswalczak.blogspot.com.