Opening your home to other believers or using dinner as a time to reach out to nonbelievers has played a vital role in church life since the time of Jesus.
Sharing meals helped build the early Church. “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude … ” Acts 2:46 HCSB.
Today, many people do the opposite. We keep the door closed to those outside our own households and we often choose TV over significant dinnertime conversation. No wonder so many have few close friends within their churches. Sitting together for supper is a time to connect, strengthen friendships and share the Spirit along with a meal.
Set the table with care, but don't stress about it. If you want to go all out and use the good china do so, but everyday dishes work just as well. Make any table more welcoming with fabric and flowers. The table runners, opposite, in black and white stripes and black solid cotton were 30-minute no-sew projects made with fabric glue and trim. Dress a less attractive table with a pressed tablecloth or new flat bed sheet.
Fresh flowers may be a luxury to some but they bring new life to the table and they can provide an opening for a conversation about God’s creation. However you set the table, do it to honor your guests. Like a work of art, a well thought-out table can tell a story and offer opening points for Gospel-focused conversation. For instance, white-washed vases or black and white stripes carry meanings, pointing to how Jesus’ forgiveness washes us white as snow and the victory of light over dark.
Follow dinner by celebrating Communion. For many, this may seem a foreign, almost radical idea. But as Jesus passed the cup and broke bread with the disciples, He said, “…do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” 1 Corinthians 11:25 NIV. He gave no designation of a right place for Communion, no command for the presence of a minister to officiate and no signal that this observance is separate from daily life. You will likely discover that this sacred sharing deeply touches the hearts of all present.
Sharing His Love
Jesus came to earth and much of His teaching involved eating and drinking, as Luke attested in his Gospel. Here are nine instances written in Luke.
- At the home of Levi, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners. Chapter 5.
- He sups at the home of Simon the Pharisee. Chapter 7.
- Jesus feeds the 5,000. Chapter 9.
- He eats in the home of Martha and Mary. Chapter 10.
- Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law while sharing a table. Chapter 11.
- During a meal, Jesus urges people to invite the poor to dine rather than their friends. Chapter 14.
- Jesus invites himself to dinner and a stay at the home of Zacchaeus. Chapter 19.
- The Last Supper takes place. Chapter 22.
- The risen Christ has a meal with two disciples in Emmaus, and later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem. Chapter 24.
Jesus would eat with anyone. He sat at supper with His closest friends, His enemies, those who were transformed by His words and those who were merely part of an unknown multitude fortunate enough to be on a hillside in Bethsaida one day.
It’s clear that Jesus enjoyed eating, just as it is clear that He took advantage of every meal to teach, guide, touch and, if necessary, challenge and rebuke. He ate for joy; He dined with purpose.
Most significant is what He did near the end. One of the last acts of His earthly life was to take bread and wine, and offer it to His disciples. Jesus told the disciples to repeat this act in memory of Him, the One who had been among them. The same ritual is still played out today as we take the bread and the cup, pray for a clean heart and accept forgiveness.
What about dinner at your house? Would you like Jesus to come eating and drinking there?
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ ’’Matthew 25:40 NIV.
Don’t let the state of your dinnerware stand between you and hosting a meal at your home. Here are some ways to create an elegant setting for your guests.
- Small groups. Instead of hosting a party of eight or more, start with three guests. This allows you to work with a smaller table, a smaller food budget and fewer plates, flatware, serving pieces and such.
- Shop for bargains. This could be plates on sale at the grocery store, some of the amazing deals found on the Internet or even items from garage sales. Discount retailers often offer stacks of plates and glassware among their low-cost remainders. The same places also offer good prices on silverware and such.
- Mix and match. Develop an eclectic dishware collection, shop garage sales, eBay and antiques and collectibles shops for assorted dishware, servers and other items.
- Glasses. Shop for discount crystal and elegant glassware to put variety on the table.
- Backdrops. If your home lacks an adequate dining room, create a screened backdrop or stretch stripe or patterned canvas on a wood frame to set it apart. Or, use sheer curtains to partition off the end of your living room to create a dramatic space for dining.
- Centerpieces. Flowers are the most beautiful as long as your guests are not allergic. To find the best prices look for local growers, discount stores with floral coolers and homegrown varieties from your yard, a friend or family member or a farmers’ market. Vases can be recycled, repurposed or garage sale finds.
- Place cards. Whether used as conversation starters or for prayer text, place cards are helpful additions to the table. Make them using templates downloaded here or make your own using a computer and print them out on cardstock. A backing of contrasting cardstock cut slightly larger adds stability to the cards.