Why Tables are Sacred to Christians

{By Alexandra Presley}

“May there be singing at our table before the night is done, and old broad jokes to fling

at the stars and tell them we are men.”

– Robert Farrar Capon

Tables. They are sacred places.

Your table is a sacred place. Maybe it is your family’s table, the one you have come to for your entire life: old, sprawling, and wooden, gouged with years of loving and always crowded around with clamor. Maybe it is your own little table: brand new, and quiet, and tentative, because there are still only two mouths to do all the talking and eating above it. Maybe you don’t have enough time and your table isn’t so much for eating as it is a place for setting things down as you hurry in and out the front door.

Every table will either be neglected or beautiful depending on what you decide to do with it.

But, neglected or beautiful, it is still sacred. Remember that as you scoot in all the chairs, as you fold each napkin and put a fork at every place. Make habits and make rituals. No matter how simple, no matter how brief, no matter how loud or wild or messy, a meal at a happy table is sacred and more than sacred: it is beautiful.

Holy things happen at the table.

why christians should eat together

At the table, there are cups flowing over with mercies while enemies watch, dismayed. There is poured-out perfume on perfect feet, the scent heavy and sober in everyone’s nose. There is a rejected cripple who is made a son and given a place. There are broken halves of bread and a cup passed from hand to shaking hand. Jesus ate at tables, so many sinners’ tables – imperfect and wonderful. They called Him, begged Him, to come and eat with them, because they knew that a meal is a beautiful gift. He threw tables over, too.

And He knelt beside them while washing dirty feet. There are tables that are full of fatness, and tables that are empty and lean. Tables are where speeches are made and prayers are said, and where milk often gets spilled. A table is one of those places where a betrayal is most shocking, because you can’t help but trust the people you eat with. The table is where affection grows up into love, as food is made and meals are shared.

To sit and eat with people, brushing elbows and passing butter, is to make communion

The table is where we get filled up. This is definitely not so that we can quickly eat and quickly forget. The table is meant to be marvelous enough to pull us back, again and again, wanting more. A man once wisely said that “we were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.”

The table is a place where we go because deep down our hearts still long, more than anything else, to taste goodness. And anyone who comes and truly tastes goodness will always hunger for more. And people with that kind of hunger can learn to make beautiful things.

The table is home. Songwriter, Josh Garrels, recently released a beautiful album about coming home, and one of his songs is called “At the Table”. In profoundly simple lyrics, he tells the glory of that place: “There will always, always be/ A place for you at my table/ Return to me.”

A place at a table means belonging. It means being wanted.

It means there is some part of life missing when you are not there. It means that, for things to be right, the chair must be filled and the plate must be set. The table is where they seat the prodigal and where he suddenly knows without a doubt that he has truly come home.

But, as nice as it sounds, it is actually not easy to sit down at a table with the people you love. It’s much easier to hurry your separate ways and gulp down your separate meals. The table takes time. It takes effort. It takes you.

The table is where we have to open up our clenched, sweaty fists, where we’re hoarding away that little lump of bitterness. And we have to wash our hands before we sit down.

Coming to the table means we must first forgive completely, so that we can look them all right in the eyes without any shame. Coming to the table means we have to stop everything else and be still, and that might be the hardest part of it all. Sitting still makes you incredibly vulnerable. The table makes you incredibly vulnerable. Sacred places have a way of doing that. But vulnerability is not a bad thing, so don’t be afraid to sit down. Come and eat. Laugh out loud and make your table good.

Make it holy. Make it great. And know, with joy, that it is strength to sit still there.

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