Tuesday, April 6, 2010


In our adult Sunday School class this week, we talked about the importance of the family dinner table. Families have moved away from sharing meals together, at a regular time and place, in favor of either eating in front of the TV - or - a homestyle version of drive-thru dining. Many have lost any sense of eating together as being sacramental.

During worship, Brother Billy read Exodus 24:11, where Moses, Aaron, and others "...beheld God, and ate and drank." The heading in my Bible for this particular passage is The Covenant Confirmed, and a footnote for the above-mentioned verse comments that similar meals were a common way of concluding or celebrating a covenant. Our New Testament reading Sunday morning was from John 21, where Jesus called His disciples in from fishing and served them breakfast on the beach. Again, we have God eating with His people.

I mention the Sunday School lesson and the verses in Exodus and John to point out that eating together seems to be something valued by God and important to the life of His people. As is so often the case, the "school" where we learn and practice this reality is the home. Are we as parents teaching our children the value of shared fellowship over a meal at the family table? Or is "dinner" a 10-minute pit-stop while we catch up on the local news or latest sports scores? Is it a come-and-go, throw-it-in-the-microwave affair, squeezed somewhere between ball practice and homework? A stop at the fast-food drive-thru so folks can "refuel" enroute to the next commitment?

Making dinner time a priority, and adjusting our schedules accordingly, is an important part of family life. This shared meal is a daily, ongoing celebration of God's covenant with and provision for His people. Often, everything "out there" threatens to commandeer the family and to define our family culture. Parents, we must resist the pressure to conform our families to the world and the world's demands, and we must teach our children to resist, also.

When children are very young, maintaining a regular dinner time isn't too difficult, since their world pretty much revolves around Mom and Dad. But, this is something we should strive for even as our kids grow into teenagers. Older kids may complain a little when they have to adjust their schedules or plans to accomodate the family, but learning to budget activities and respond to invitations with " I'll meet you after dinner" will become a more comfortable habit with practice.

Same goes for us parents. Saying "no" to activities that encroach upon family dinner time may initially seem like a sacrifice or a hassle, but shared fellowship around the table has much greater value than the distractions which entice us away from the ritual family meal. We need to protect and defend this time with our families.

Family mealtime doesn't have to be a big deal - maybe tonight it's just pancakes or chili and grilled-cheese - but it should be regular, consistent, a normal part of the family routine. Something assumed. Not sitting down together for dinner should be the exception rather than the norm. Think of family mealtime as practice for eternity. Christ Himself is preparing a family dinner for us in Glory - dinner with the family begins this evening; for Christians, it will go on forever!

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