IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Meal times in our house are noisy, and getting noisier. There are more people to join in the conversation these days! Our 5 year old talks pretty much non-stop; our 3 year old twins have a lot to say, and now our 1 year old is making her voice heard.
The questions are fast flowing. Here are 3 questions lifted directly from a recent meal, asked consecutively without drawing breath:
- What is grace?
- How do babies come out of mommies tummies?
- What does Uncle Chris have a big beard?
Some are easier to answer than others. It’s chaos, but we’re trying to instigate some ‘rules’.
You know, things like:
- Don’t speak with your mouth full
- listen to one another
- don’t deliberately fall of your chair (we can’t be the only family with this problem)
IT’S A POWERFUL THING
Eating together is like family glue. I think so many of us intuitively know this. As much as possible, we have breakfast and dinner all together. The beginning and the end of the day is punctuated by sharing food.
Often the day involves different places and activities for different members of the family, but as you come together and get stuck into the same feast, pass each other the applesauce, pour each other cups of water, you’re a team again.
And when the eating together is done, the family members trot off, a little bit stronger and feeling restored.
IT’S A PROFOUND THING
I find mealtimes are a natural point for family devotions, learning the Lord’s Prayer together, praying for our friends and neighbors, as well as hearing each other’s stories. So many things flow from eating together.
But it’s more than convenience and it’s more than just a nice thing to do. It’s a heavenly thing to do. Just like many other wonderful aspects of being human, it’s a reflection of an even greater God-ly thing to do.
It’s how the Lord relates to His people. Again and again, eating together crops up in Scripture. Bread provided from heaven, a table prepared in the presence of enemies, the great feast God makes for us and eats with us, and the ultimate wedding banquet. And so many times we read how Jesus ate with sinners.
IT’S ABOUT RESTORATION
The story that often catches me the most is when Zacchaeus met Jesus. Come down, Zacchaeus! I must come to your house for tea! I must. It’s been providentially decided that you and I will eat together, and by the end of that meal, you’ll have repented, and our relationship will be beautifully restored. Now hurry up and climb down from that tree.
It’s nearly Easter, and I can’t help but think of the Passover and the Christian family meal that Jesus started. Our eating together at the Lord’s Supper is exactly that kind of glue. A grace given to us by Jesus, because we belong to him, and shared with our Christian family, because we belong to each other. It’s simple, just bread and wine, but it speaks of a restoration that will last forever.
No wonder eating together is so powerful. That’s how we’ve been made to relate.
IT’S ABOUT FAMILY GLUE
Sharing a meal requires a certain degree of peace and friendship. You know if you want to deepen, or heal, or celebrate a relationship with someone, you invite them over and sit down at the table with them. It’s something so simple, but sharing food is special.
It’s the same with our little families. Eating together is like family glue; it knits us together, tetchy moments of the day are put aside, we look after each other, and tired people get a boost of energy. It’s a designated time when we know we’ll regroup and start afresh. And every day and without great drama, children absorb that they are loved, provided for, secure and full.
WHEN WE’RE WEARY…
Of course, family meal times with little people can be exhausting, demanding, even dare I say a little relentless in the frequency with which they seem to come around. I know that, really. I’m grateful for true foodies like Sophie who keep us inspired and interested in what we’re cooking and eating, because it’s a huge undertaking.
So for encouragement, I want to keep the bigger picture in mind. Eating together as a family is achieving something much more than we can see just from empty plates and sticky faces. It’s family glue.