I’ve heard stories from my grandparents’ generation about family times around the table. Such times happened periodically in my childhood, but they were not the norm. We ate quickly, in shifts, or holding the food in front of the television. With a routine of that nature, it would have been difficult to find a good time to insert a question or conversation about God.
As I listen to families today, it seems the pace has only quickened. Not only do families rarely eat together, they may not even eat in shifts at the same house. The loss of the family table is bemoaned by many as a contributing factor to the breakdown of the family. We’ve lost a key opportunity to spend time together as a family. What’s more, we’ve lost a key opportunity to share our faith with our children.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 tells us, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and mind; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In case you missed it, this isn’t given to us as a good suggestion. It’s a command. We are to “teach” our children in every facet of our lives, including those times when we sit at home. The problem – we rarely sit at home.
At our house, we’ve made it a point to have breakfast and dinner together at the table. It has become a consistent time to setting the course for the day, reflecting on the day, or sharing highs and lows. Frequently questions come up about the Bible or people that are on our hearts and minds. At times I'll come to the table with a topic, but most of the time it happens naturally. However, nothing would happen at all if the family table wasn't a set part of our family routine.
With most families torn in so many different directions, you may think it's impossible to have a daily family table experience. My encouragement would be to start small. Consider carving out one night a week that is set aside for no plans other than dinner together as a family and sharing life and faith. You might even consider celebrating a holiday or having a meal that has a biblical precedent to encourage faith talks.
Over the Holy Week, my family set aside a day to celebrate Passover. We didn't go through the entire Haggadah and have all the elements that are usually involved. That would be fantastic, but the encouragement is to use what you have and keep things simple for you and your children, especially if this is a new experience. We got special bread (Challah), grape juice, brisket, matzo ball soup, matzos, roasted potatoes, asparagus and more (hungry yet?). We reviewed the Exodus account and focused on the matzo (unleavened bread). We talked about how the stripes and piercings remind us of what Jesus did for us. We also talked about the grape juice as a reminder of the blood Jesus shed. In essence, we led our family through a "Lord's Table" experience at our "Family Table." We also had Mimi (my mom) join us for the festivities which made it a multi-generational experience. It was a great time of showing Christ as the center of our family life. My brother even sent me a text after hearing about it and asked about he and his wife joining us for next year!
It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be a big party or even a big meal. Don't get bogged down with the details. The important thing is to just start. Scriptures call us to talk about our faith while we sit at home. If we are never sitting, we have to keep in mind that the Scriptures don’t change, so we must. May God bless you as you take a step of faith to cut out and set aside time to bring Christ to your family table.