Come to the Table

Many of us have had jobs where we had to stay on our feet pretty much all day. Mechanics in the pit, nurses walking between rooms at a quick pace and restaurant servers come to mind. Even more of us can think of jobs we’ve had that are labor intensive: farming, construction work, teaching… at the end of a long day at work, it feels good to sit down to the table with loved ones where you can take a deep a breath and leave the fever pitch of work and activities and life in general.

Throughout this program year at First Lutheran, we are considering the place of tables in our lives. Last month I wrote about how there is always a “Place for You” at the Lord’s Table where you are always included. I also wrote about the difference between being included and actually feeling included. It requires effort on the parts of those who are already on the ‘inside’ to make ‘outsiders’ feel included. This month, as the pace of life has quickened for many families since school started, as holiday plans start to come into focus and as lots of other worldly concerns bombard us, I want to consider how tables provide a time and place for rest. Every time we immobilize our legs by sitting up to the table and intentionally enter into conversation with others around the table, we leave the busy-ness of our day and enter a Sabbath moment. We stop long enough to listen to the stories of our loved one’s day. We stop long enough to taste and smell food. Maybe it was microwaved, or came from a restaurant or is leftovers from three nights ago. It’s not about the food, though. It’s about the table gathering us for a time that isn’t only about me.

What if every time your whole family somehow found a way to gather around a table you shared your highs and lows; each person took a turn to be heard by the others; a caring conversation was had between siblings, between parents and their children, between guests and friends…

A few years ago, we used the season of Lent to study the idea of Sabbath together. I don’t think I can ever remind our congregation enough of how important Sabbath is to our well-being. Wayne Mueller defined Sabbath as “a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.” I’m not saying that every family meal must be some mountain-top experience where the depths of our souls are turned inside out for all around the table to see. Or am I? Can it? Would it be a good thing? What if every time your whole family somehow found a way to gather around a table you shared your highs and lows; each person took a turn to be heard by the others; a caring conversation was had between siblings, between parents and their children, between guests and friends as they gather at a bar or restaurant?

If you’ve read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis you know that the wardrobe—at times—acted as an entrance from this world into another: Narnia. I believe our tables are able to act as similar entryways away from all that makes us busy-busy-busy and toward what makes us loving, kind and wise. It is around our tables that we truly get to know each other. Ideas and opinions get debated there. Stories are shared.

I encourage you to not rush from your table the next time you have a chance to share it with someone else. Too often, we are thinking of the next commitment, a show on TV or getting on with our homework. Take a few extra minutes for this little Sabbath moment in your day so that you may remember who you are, what you know and taste the gifts of eternity.