I think one of the things my wife, Allison, does best – and she’s multi-talented for sure – is to set a beautiful table. Whenever we host people in our home, she will transform our biggest room into a majestic banquet hall with one long table in the center, featuring all kinds of crystal and silver and pewter, complete with seasonal accents and vibrant, overflowing centerpieces. Care will be taken to ensure everyone’s place is well thought out, that the menu accommodates everyone’s needs, and that the mood and lighting are cozy. My job is generally to set up the table and chairs and then get myself and the kids out of the way for a while as she casts her spell, transforming our humble toy-encrusted domicile into this otherworldly temple, where the lines between the temporal and eternal seem to waver just a bit.
Jim says all the time that the family dinner table is the most formative place to the human soul. The manners and social cues we pick up there have profound effects on our everyday interactions with the world. The table is the center of our liturgy, in both the church and the home. I know there were decades of imaginative play that preceded Allie’s table-scaping abilities: years and years of pretending, which led to the skills and insights and intuitions that enable her almost effortlessly to put together a place of blessing and abundance to share with those we love. And yet there’s an extent to which we’re all still pretending. Every time we sit down to a meal, we’re rehearsing and imitating both our heritage and our destiny, and in a way that has real benefits for us and all those whom we welcome to join us. We are a feasting people, and the way we shape our feasts shapes our very souls. What is it about setting a table and enjoying a feast that brings us so much closer to who we are in Christ? We’ll explore that a bit this Sunday as we continue our new series, Setting the Table.
I hope you’ve made plans to join us this weekend, first for worship as we hear more of God’s Word on Feasting, and then afterward as we become not only hearers but also doers of the Word at our annual Fall Festival. It’s also the 500th anniversary Reformation Sunday, so we have much to celebrate!