The Lost Art of Fine Dining
WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, DINNER WAS A WONDERFUL TIME! All 6 of us gathered to share the day together. At 6pm prompt, no matter what was happening in our lives everything stopped for dinner. We all ran, from wherever we were, to jump into our seats, pray and dig in. The ever-present dog was at his place under the table, happily awaiting the fallen crumb or rejected food not appreciated by one of us. We laughed and told stories of our day. Dad shared research discoveries, Mom told of hospital antics or new baby’s being born, the kids talked about their schoolwork and the friends they made. All was right with the world in those couple of hours.
IN BUNGOMA, the past 6 years have found only 5 of us around the table at night. All 3 boys were either in boarding school (in Africa, the government chooses the school you attend in junior/senior high & most kids are sent away) or college. But this year, everyone was home. Joshua is attending his 1st year at the Bible School (all the boys, including those at the children’s home attend a year of Bible school before choosing college or learning a trade), John is learning to run the farm and marrying beautiful Sylbil next month while James is finishing his degree in agriculture along with his fiancée, Esther. Justus and Margaret also welcomed a new grandson, Nathan, and their nephew who stays with them as he attends the Bible school. In one year, the table has grown to 12. There are still no phones or electronics allowed at the table. Permission is asked to leave, even for a moment. The evening is all about family. The joy is endless. The laughter rings throughout the compound. Everything is loud. The wrestling (it IS mostly guys after all), the clanging of dishes, the sound of oil spattering in pans, the singing and praying….it fills the atmosphere. There is so much love while the Holy Spirit hovers. So much so, that even in disagreements, sadness’s, hard labor or frustration, there is peace knowing God has them & their needs all in the palm of His hand.
It's a joy to be in the midst of a culture that still honors family. Jesus loved gathering around a table to eat and fellowship as well. We can look in the gospel of Luke alone to find 7 times meals were mentioned: In Luke 7:34 it says, 'The son of Man has come eating and drinking'. In Luke 5:29-32, Jesus dines with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is anointed by a woman in the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
In Luke 9:10-36, Jesus feeds the five thousand.
In Luke 10:25-42, Jesus eats in the home of Mary and Martha.
In Luke 14:7-24, Jesus shares the parable of inviting the poor rather than theirs friends to a large banquet.
In Luke 22:14-23, Jesus gathers his closest friends (and one betrayer) for their Last Supper.
Meals were where Jesus made new acquaintances & served old friends. It was a vital role of His ministry, representing His abounding grace for sinners. Jesus was vibrant with the desire for communication, connection and celebration. He ate with who He ate with bringing hubs of relationship and celebration to a place where social boundary markers were guarded. But there seems to be something about sharing a meal that brings the Kingdom of God to the forefront. It is no surprise the second coming of Christ is the ‘wedding supper of the lamb’. (Rev 19) Maybe we should pick up the art of fine dining once again that our tables become a place of radical welcome, especially for those we don't relate to, estranged family or friends, those who have been abandoned or rejected. Those searching for comfort or just a place to belong. Oh that our tables be full when the King returns!