I grew up in a somewhat ramshackle, old Victorian house in the suburbs of St. Louis. I am sure if I revisited that house now the dining room would be of quite normal proportions, but in my mind it is forever captured through the lens of a child’s eye. It was HUGE! There was a big bay window with a large seat, opposite the window there was a sideboard table that held the good china, my mom’s sewing machine in a corner, the far end had a built-in book shelf that held glassware, the other end opened into the living room (which was used only when we had company). Overhead the light fixture was a large, crystal chandelier. In the center and the heart of the room was a beautiful dark, wood, dining room table that seated eight and could be extended to seat twelve (and often did!).
The large table served for many uses. On occasion, my mom would let my sister and me stand on the table and take all the hanging crystals off the chandelier and wash them. We loved this chore and delighted in holding the sparkly, freshly, washed crystals up to the sun to watch rainbows dance across the room. It was also around this table that my mom, grandmother, and aunts would gather to make the traditional Indian Christmas goodies. For Christmas and Easter, the table became a smorgasbord of every woman in the extended family’s special dish. But aside from all these extra uses, our dining room table was where we gathered nightly as a family to eat together. Though not a particularly exalted task, this daily gathering was its most sacred use.
Whether we gathered as our family alone or extended the table to include guests, the dining room table was a place of fellowship, of shared prayer, shared food, shared life. In the conversations around this table that our parents values were often communicated, a place where problems were discussed, encouragement given, and also arguments had and apologies given. It is this deep sharing in each other’s lives that we are called. Christian life is one meant to be lived in community. As St. Basil the Great said, “If you live alone, whose feet will you wash?” Jesus gathered His disciples around a table and told them this very thing. He encouraged them to go forth and serve and promised that He would be always with them. He called them to a new way of life and a new hope in Him.
I am sure most of you have an experience of trying a food you were sure you would hate, only to find it delicious. What usually convinces us to try it is the obvious delight of another in it. For me it was oysters, fried oysters. Every year when it came time to put up the Christmas tree, there was a procession up to the attic to bring all the ornaments down. While my dad and brothers put the tree together, my sisters and I would sort out the ornaments and mom would be in the kitchen frying up a big batch of oysters. My older brothers and oldest sister tried to convince us (my sister just older to me and myself) that they were delicious. They didn’t look delicious. They didn’t even look edible. However, finally one year we were brave enough to try one… and I have been hooked ever since! They were crisp and salty and had the wonderful flavor of the sea. My older siblings still tease to this day that they regret our discovery, as it meant less for them.
That is how our life as Christians should be. Our obvious delight in the Lord should make other’s say, “I’ll have what she’s having!” We must be well discipled so that we can, as Scripture tells us , “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). May our dining room tables become a place where the Christ is recognized in the breaking of the bread. A place where we can be nourished in spirit and body. Where we can learn to become the living example that proclaims to others “Taste and see how good the Lord is!”