From Chinese New Year to Christmas, there are endless reasons to feast throughout the year, no matter what our culture is, food is something that universally unites us. But do we need a reason to gather together around our tables?
As long as I can remember, my parents have always had one strict rule; we have to sit together at the table for dinner. When I was younger, I must admit this was a rule I struggled with! However, with time, I’ve discovered the importance of this rule; it brings us together and creates opportunities for us to share life with each other and enjoy table fellowship.
By God’s design, we have been created for relationships. The Bible teaches us that sharing a meal together is one of the ways we establish, deepen, and enjoy relationships with God and others.
In the Bible, we often read of dining experiences, lavish banquets and many great feasts. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we regularly find Him reclining “at table”, engaging with real people, teaching more of who God is, demonstrating communion with God, and building true fellowship and genuine community among His disciples.
The early Church gathered regularly in their homes to “break bread together” (Acts 2:46) as a practical way to demonstrate their fellowship in Christ. And many of the epistles continue to encourage us to use the gift of hospitality today (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9).
In a digitally connected world, where we share information via texts, emails, posts, etc., we miss all the elements of face-to-face communication: seeing someone’s facial expression, hearing the tone of their voice, and maintaining eye contact. As helpful as it can be, technology can become dehumanising. Therefore we need to emphasise the importance of living in personal relationships within the Church.
We enjoy sharing meals together because it is a tangible expression of service, love, and unity. Sharing a meal nourishes our desire to know and be known, because it facilitates face-to-face communication.
As Christians, we enjoy the blessing of belonging to a community where we can enjoy relationships with other Christians. Table fellowship is one of the common ways that God builds authentic community. If we neglect table fellowship, we can miss opportunities to commune with others in Christ-centred communities.
There are many ways in which you can regularly enjoy table fellowship, whether it’s inviting others to join you for food after church, you could volunteer with a mission partner to prepare or distribute meals, or as Christians share the Lord’s supper together.
Relationships are the basis for all human flourishing, and eating together is an important part of building relationships because of the opportunity it creates for true fellowship and genuine community.
My prayer is that you will extend an invitation today, and begin to cultivate the relationships we were designed to enjoy around our tables.