It Happens At The Table

newhouse 1The table in my dining room is creaky and needs a refinishing. The legs have scrapes from dozens of moves and there are a few scratches from dog feet here and there. A professional designer would probably recommend that we look for something a little less vintage, perhaps something that matches the dining room better. But that table isn’t going anywhere.

It was a wedding present to my great-grandmother, who moved from Glasgow to Canada a few years before she met and married my great-grandfather. A local craftsman made it with a built-in leaf so that it could expand with their family. Their two children, one boy, one girl, were born on that table. When my great-grandmother, then a widow, moved to a retirement home, the table was passed along in the family. I grew up eating every meal at it, unless we had so much company that the children were relegated to the kitchen or porch. My dad closed each day in family worship around it. Now my family eats our dinners and worships around the same table that has held meals for generations: nearly a century of Christmas dinners, Easter brunches, Thanksgiving feasts, and Victoria day teas have accumulated in its history. The table is a tangible reminder of God’s kindness to my family.

I hadn’t thought too deeply about my table until a wedding this summer. A pastor prayed for the young couple, specifically for their table and all the things that happen around a family’s table—a lot! A kitchen or dining room table often serves as the center of a home. Here are just a few of the things that can happen around a family’s table:

– Newlyweds eat dinners together by candlelight.
– Scripture reading becomes a nightly pattern.
– Guests come and find fellowship and physical nourishment.
– Children learn to eat the food that God has provided.
– Family members ask and receive forgiveness for sins during the day.
– Children are catechized and instructed in the faith.
– Thank-you notes are written.
– Cousins come to join in holiday meals.
– Children learn how to converse.
– Unbelievers are welcomed into a Christian home.
– Husbands and wives comfort each other.
– Children do homework.
– Friends bring meals to eat during busy or difficult times.
– Birthday candles get blown out.
– Questions are talked over and answered.
– Teenagers consume astonishing amounts of food.
– Husband and wife drink late-evening coffee and work through an issue.
– Wedding invitations are addressed and stamped.
– Psalms and hymns of praise go up to God.
– Older women mentor younger women.
– Grandchildren come for meals.
– Prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and petition rise to God daily.

You may not have a table that has seen family labours and deliveries (a tradition we stopped three generations ago!), but what your family does around your table can have a huge impact on your children and grandchildren. Your table can be a testimony to coming generations of God’s faithfulness to you and your obedience to Him (Psalm 128:3). What happens around your table? How can we make our table times more of a blessing to each other and a glory to God?