Leonard Sweet has an interesting way of pointing things out, things that we should have seen, but probably didn't. His recently released book “From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity is Formed” (NavPress, 2014) is no exception.
This is more than just a book about the importance of the table throughout the Bible, it’s more than a reminder of how often food was involved in the ministry of Jesus. It’s also a reminder of the importance of the stories that are told around the table. The stories that Jesus told, and the stories that we tell in our kitchens and our dining rooms, the stories that we tell while dining out with friends, the stories that form part of our mealtime rituals with family, friends, acquaintances and fellow Christians,
Sweet points out that identities, including the faith identity of many people is formed around the table, and he laments the fact that in far too many cases, meal time is no longer a community time filled with stories but a solitary time, minutes at the most, where even if there is someone else there, they tend to be ignored in favor of an electronic device. And the lack of community, the lack of companionship, the lack of story leads to a lack of identity.
Members of a family which eats together has a sense of who they are. They know their history, they know what matters to them, they know what the values are, and, especially when it comes to faith, they understand why they believe as they do.
When people leave the church, it’s because they don’t know why it matters. When the story is told around the table, the ‘why’ is made evident, and surprisingly enough, there are fewer departures.
This is a book that every family should read and heed. It may be much more convenient to do fast food, or to have everyone fix his own plate whenever he gets hungry. But the reason for eating together is more than just making it easy to get the dishes done.
Check out page 5 for the story of the Bible in 6 sentences, 3 for the Old Testament, and 3 for the New. Follow Jesus example, the table is a great place to tell the story.
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