I stare from across the table wondering when dinner will be done just to clean up the mess. “Use your napkin..and your fork too! Manners please! We chew with our mouths closed. Oh no, I’ll get it. Preese, Preesy, PREESY, we are eating dinner, would you like to eat dinner with the family or go to your crib?”
Exhausted. Drained. Lukewarm. Up & down, up & down.
Many nights I see how the family dinner table looks like this. I read those yummy food stories about how the author waxes poetic somewhere between the onions dancing across the sizzling fat, and finding themselves in a sea of bliss.
Tonight, like most, I want to tell that writer, “Seriously!? I mean, you have clearly never eaten at my house, or any house with children under the age of five. And you know why you don’t see parents eating out with their kids? It’s because rush hour sounds better than taking the whole clan to a restaurant in the evening.”
And yet, here I am sitting at what I believe is one of the most sacred places in the whole world. The Table.
I see Jesus with his riff raff group stumbling in to share the table with what they don’t even realize is THE meal of all meals. They don’t just break bread or drink wine. No man, it’s the Passover feast. What our modern Christian world has reduced to a measly wafer and dip of juice or wine was a full spread meal. Still, his friends didn’t really get it.
Later, we see Jesus once again sharing a meal with his friends. There he is cooking up fish beachside (can we get a little foodie commentary on this one), because Jesus cares about the gathering and feeding. He cares about the mess and the sloppy. I’m sure there was some sand mixed in with those grilled fish, and loads of dirty hands. No sign of utensils or napkins or fine china.
I look across the table and see my people. As the disciples bite into the fish and their eyes open to see Jesus, so my eyes open to see Jesus here at my grease-stained linen napkins, water spilled table and toddler doing a dance. If we open our eyes to see the mess is really the gift, it’s really the grace of God appearing, we can embrace all sorts of hospitality in our lives. Immanuel, God with Us.
My children remind me of this daily. Sometimes it’s an act of sheer obedience to come with this heart. But, when I do, I see the face of God.
As we usher in this New Year, I pray this blessing over my table and your table:
Lord, may our tables be ones to reflect the mess to show us we are in need of your grace. May the sticky hands and burnt dinners be marks of your mercy, and how it’s new with each morning. May we see supping with these people we call family as sacred. May our hearts be open to hearing from you through their eyes. May our tables be quick to share life, embrace life, and grieve life. May our hospitality be found in the table, not in the fancy food, coordinating centerpieces; but, in the warm smiles, blessings prayed, tears of sadness & laughter, and being known. May we always invite you to our table as the host who always welcomes us to your table.
How are you seeing your table as sacred these days? What would be your prayer for your table?