About 5 months ago, my wife and I decided that we needed a dining room. Our kitchen table seats four, which is enough for our small family, but if we wanted to have friends over for dinner, we either had to eat outside on our back patio (which seats 6), or in the winter we would just eat in the living room on couches. This was fine for our close friends, but we wanted a place that we could host even strangers that would feel like we were actually hosting them, not just inviting them into our messy existence. So, we commandeered the kids toy room that we created in the extra room upstairs and created a dining room in its place, all with the plan of making the extra room downstairs into a toy room for the kids.
Tonight, my wife and I, equipped with a hand saw and an Exacto knife, put the fake wood baseboards on the new toy room downstairs. I hate doing work on my house, and we are both rather lazy humans, so it took us 4 months to rip up the carpet, grind off the sink nails in the concrete floor, paint, strip the sealant off of the concrete floor, etch it (which apparently is an important step), paint the floor, and put on the finishing touches. Now our displaced children will finally have a room that is theirs to play in, which they haven’t had since my daughter was just slightly over 1 year old. She’s 18 months old now. It’s been a long time coming.
Back to the dining room…
“…[T]he table embodies a special place of grace, in which the reconciliation offered by God to the world may be made manifest. The table is a sacred place, where one may encounter all sorts of mysteries, may encounter manifestations of reconciliation unexpected and surprising” (Camp). Taking a brief look at the Gospels will give you an understanding of how important table fellowship is. Jesus made water out of wine at a wedding banquet, broke bread with the tax collector Zacchaeus, was bathed in perfume by a prostitute at a dinner with some Pharisees, and told many parables involving feasts and parties that reveal the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven. The prophet Isaiah says that, when God establishes his eternal Kingdom on his mountain, people from all over the world will come to his mountain and feast with him, eating and drinking together at God’s table.
Because of this, we (my wife and I) believe that there is something deeply spiritual about hosting people for dinner. We don’t do it that often, but when we do, we experience new levels of understanding, intimacy, and friendship with people that we never knew before. We also want our kids to see us eating and drinking with strangers. We want them to see that the table, the dining room table, is a place where truly mysterious and spiritual things happen. We want them to see us make a big deal about having people over for dinner. We want them to want to have a constant flow of life in their own lives as adults. We believe this is one way in which we can demonstrate to them what the Kingdom of Heaven is like in a very real and tangible way.
We have a list of about 50 couples/individuals that we plan on inviting over for dinner in our home over the next year, and now that the toy room is finished, we can start plotting and planning these feasts. So, we raise our glass to the elbow grease expended for this purpose, and say a hearty, “Cheers!” If you want in on this little piece of the Kingdom, invite yourself over, or invite us over, but never underestimate the power of the shared table to show us what God is up to in this world.