by Rachael Adams
An Open Table Opens Up Hearts
“Thank you for welcoming me to your table. I can’t remember the last time I shared a meal like
I received this text from a dear friend who joined my family for dinner recently. She doesn’t have a family of her own to share meals with and her message reminded me to value something I typically take for granted. I’m fortunate to have nightly meals with my husband and two children. Around the table, we talk about our days, sometimes laughing, other times commiserating, but always sharing our lives together. While these meal times meet our physical needs, this table fellowship also meets our emotional and spiritual needs.
The value of sharing meals with people was modeled by Jesus. We read about Him reclining at tables and hosting dinner parties along the shoreline. He had intimate gatherings with seven for breakfast (John 21) and with twelve at the last supper (Matthew 26). He also held larger gatherings, feeding crowds of five thousand (Mark 6) and four thousand (Mark 8) with a few fish and bread that He had multiplied.
The early church practiced coming to the table together just as Jesus did during His earthly ministry. This is one of the simplest ways the gospel spread. We read about this in the book of Acts as well as in another ancient source called the Didache. This early church document, compiled between 50-70 CE and used during the time before the four Gospels became prevalent, served as a practical manual to teach early church members how to live as followers of Jesus. Interestingly enough, the second largest section of the Didache focused on what believers did when they ate together at a table.
A man by the name of Thomas O’Laughlin who studied the Didache said this: “What set this community (the early church) apart was the sharing of food cut across the social stratifications of the ancient world and its dining practice. The poor and the rich ate together, the slave shared a table with their master, women ate with men, the outcast with the religiously pure, the Gentile sat next to the Jew, and all prayed to the Father and thanked Him for sending His Son.”
Isn’t this a beautiful picture? I imagine it’s a little taste of what heaven will be like—where we are all invited to the feast God is preparing for the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9). Everyone is welcome at God’s table, just as the early church invited and embraced everyone at their tables too. But do we do the same?
Who sits around our tables? My prayer and challenge for us is to invite people beyond our biological families to gather with us because we are all family in God’s eyes. It’s exciting to think about how our gatherings could eventually even add to the number in God’s family as happened through table fellowship in the days of the early church (Acts 2:47).
‘And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.’Acts 2:46-47
Our tables could be the places God does His best work. We don’t have to be gourmet cooks to make a meaningful impact. Store-bought dinner or restaurant takeout can be as impactful as homemade because the significance of the meal lies not in the food but in the people and conversations we have. Whether it’s simple or extravagant, a meal can go a long way toward growing bonds of love between family and friends.
How will your table become your ministry? Invite someone to break bread with you and see what God will do. Because where two or three gather, God promises to be there with them also (Matthew 18:20).
Rachel is a writer, podcast host, and true southern mama. When she is not mothering her two children or navigating living out of an RV (true story), She’s dreaming up ways of how to remind women like you that your life matters.