“Can we all still sit at the table and eat as a big family?”
A few years ago, my niece came for a brief visit. She had gotten in trouble for something she did. After being gently reprimanded, she asked through her tears, “Can we all still sit at the table and eat as a big family?” What she did know was that sitting around a large table with a family of eight, felt very different that having dinner alone with a single parent.
What she did not know, was that her desire to sit at that large table with a larger family came from a much deeper heart cry that echoed in eternity. Having experienced the breaking of the bread with our crew reminded her of something she could not have told you about, but deeply felt and feared the loss of.
Revelation tells of a wedding feast where we will one day all gather together, sharing everything in common and being reunited as a family with our one true Father. That image, that future, is written on the heart of every human being. It is what draws us even to the toxic table of many of our families in times like Thanksgiving.
Popular culture understands this:
- The movie “Antwone Fisher” opens with the dream of an orphan boy, walking through wheat fields to find a great barn, where all the generations of his family are gathered and a seat is set for him at the head.
- Norman Rockell’s iconic Thanksgiving photo titled “Freedom From Want” shows the generations of a family gathered together..
- In “Places in the Heart” racism, hatred, murder, etc. are reconciled on a single pew in a church in the imagined future.
- Even Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” talks about the fundamental needs to belong and be known.
All those concepts and images resonate in the deepest sense because they are evocative of something much larger, truer, and promised for all of us. Last night our home church had what I believe will be the first of many “big table” gatherings where every member, their kids, and a few guests, joined together for dinner at a single table.
Okay, so a table set for 50-60 might be doable, but is it possible to scale this as the church grows?
Six years ago, my wife and I visited a Young Life camp in Colorado and what we found as we approached the dinner table for the last night’s feast, almost dropped me to my knees. So powerful a manifestation of this idea, that I could scarcely take it all in. A single table set for 450 was overwhelming in obvious ways, but also in ways that most of those high school kids probably couldn’t articulate, but deeply understood.
- It is their one great hope.
- It is a promise for things to come.
- They were created for it.
- The heart is desperate to find it.
Nieces, neighbors, high-schoolers, your employees, and frankly, every one of us needs to be reminded of this deposit made for each of us in eternity. It is not enough to merely talk about God’s promises for us, we need to bring that experience to others. We are not merely offering food and drink, we are bringing the Kingdom here on earth.
Our church is just getting started.
- Are you gathering with others to break bread? Is there room at your table for others?
- Who did God bring to mind as you worked your way through this post?
- Put a date on the calendar, prepare a list, and let me know when it will occur. I’ll pray for you.