When you are gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”1 Corinthian 5:4
…when the people are gathered together to serve the Lord.”Psalm 102:22
For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”Matthew 18:20
We see this word over and over in Scripture.
It is a command to come together.
In our family, there is no better place to gather than around our family table.
We gather as often as possible for weekend brunches, holiday dinners, and birthday celebrations.
Our family loves to gather around a beautiful holiday table with family and friends. We break out the nice dishes, pull out the holiday tablecloth, and make name cards.
We love to share news of new babies, job promotions, and family successes.
But–are our family gatherings limited to only holidays and special occasions?
Are we missing an opportunity to connect with our family on a daily basis?
I believe so.
Regardless of the other meals of the day, we can all create time and space to gather for dinner.
“We aren’t eating at the table?”
I was prepared for this question from my youngest. It was so bizarre for her to be eating in our living room, and she was making it clear that she liked our regular dinner with family gathering around the table. In the process of painting, everything from the kitchen counters had taken over the dining room table.
“Can we at least do our family question?” she asked as she knelt down to finish her sandwich. “Sure,” I said. Hearing this request was a true gift to my heart. I love our family dinner traditions, and her question showed that she felt the same way.
Family gathering for dinners are a nightly occurrence at our home. I usually ask one or two of the children to assist with making a salad or setting the table. We gather around the table, thank the Lord for our many blessings, and bless the food we will eat.
Although my children have often had dance classes, gymnastics, or various activities, we have prioritized this time in the evening. When possible, we either have dinner earlier or later to include as many of our family members as possible.
Although I don’t enjoy menu planning, I have found that planning our dinners allows me the opportunity to include more dinners that everyone enjoys. I will usually ask everyone what they absolutely don’t want for dinner and what they “feel like.” I typically get at least two or three meal ideas from others.
Because we desire genuine connection, cell phones are not permitted at the dinner table. We use this time to discuss our day and learn about each other. After we eat, we usually spend time answering a “family question” that either myself or my husband has chosen. This question is a great way to learn what is important to our children. To hear about what is creating angst among them or what truly brings them joy.
Some of the favorite “family questions” from past dinners have been:
1) Name one thing you wish you could change about yourself? (This led to some beautiful discussions about imperfections, and loving ourselves as well.)
2) If you were given a plane that could fit five friends, and unlimited funds, where would you go and who would you take? (This offered some great insight into what friends made “the cut” and where they wanted to visit.)
3) How would you like someone to describe you? (This provided great insight into the virtues and character qualities each child desired for themselves.)
At the family dinner table, we can “dream up” new family vacations and travel back through old ones. We can speak truth over our children while we talk about their worries and frustrations. We can encourage their dreams and foster their goals. We can hear about their homeschooling lessons and encourage them to use new vocabulary words.
When we finish, each member of our family is a part of cleaning up. We have a series of chores that we rotate every week. These chores are usually done to some kind of music, and our goal is to work efficiently so we can retire to the couches to hang out. We try to teach our children the importance of “thanking the Chef” by helping clean up right away.
Our family dinners continue as we go out to eat as well. We gather all our phones in the middle of the table after placing our orders. We follow through with a family question or discussions about our day. I have watched many families when eating out who don’t utilize this precious space in their evening. Teaching our children to chat at the dinner table is also preparing our sons and daughters to be effective communicators.
Gathering around a meal is a true form of hospitality. It draws us into fellowship with others. We have welcomed many new girlfriends/boyfriends, family friends, and new friends into our home to share our hearts and break bread together. Sharing a meal can be a way of saying, “I would like to serve you” to those who come into our home.
We grow in community and service as well when we prepare to welcome anyone into our home for a meal. Everyone in our family helps to prepare our home. From cleaning to food prep, our family is learning that hospitality draws us away from selfish tendencies and helps us to become more focused on the needs of others.
The Lord has also been placing a stronger desire on our hearts to grow in fellowship. We believe that Our Lord is asking us to grow in fellowship through hospitality. Our desire to host more events that focus on gathering families and friends has led to searching for a new home that is conducive to outdoor entertaining and hosting. Our prayer is that the Lord will bless our efforts to draw others to Himself.
The more time we spend with our families, the bigger influence we can make as parents.
I want to encourage families to “take back” the family dinner time. This time around the table is an invaluable way to learn about each other and from each other.
Let’s find time to gather.