One of my favourite things during my teenage years were our family dinners. As a 16-year-old I was working full-time and loved being able to come home after a long day at work and sit down with my family to one of Mum’s home-cooked meals. My parents, 4 siblings and I would all share stories around the table of the antics, dilemmas, and successes from the day. It was often chaotic and loud with dishes of food being passed, multiple conversations happening over the top of one another and debates over whether it was Isaac Newton or William Tell who was ordered to shoot an apple from his son’s head. We’d laugh as Dad shared stories from his university days and listen as one of us let out our frustrations from work or school. Often our conversations about the every-day things would turn into discussions on the deeper topics of life. I loved being able to sit down and connect with my family in this way as we all grew up, our schedules looking very different and our paths not crossing as much.
Last year I took a short school on communication, during which we discussed the way the television has replaced the fireplace in family households. Back in the day, the fireplace was the central part of the home and families would gather around it, talking, reading, playing cards, and just generally being in each others presence. Today, with the introduction of the TV, we gather in one room but have very little interaction with each other. Add to that the problem of which channel or program to watch and we find ourselves going off to our separate televisions to watch the shows we are interested in.
Because of this, there is a greater need than ever for families to prioritise spending time together.
I believe there is something deeply spiritual in the act of eating a meal together. Jesus spent a lot of his time eating with his disciples, the religious leaders and the outcasts of society. He knew the value of sharing conversation around a table and the unity and strong friendships that it builds. Throughout biblical history God asks His people to remember what He has done for them by appointing feasts and festivals for them to celebrate each year. Jesus follows this same model when He gives the bread and wine to His disciples, asking them to remember Him each time they eat the bread or drink the wine.
Today a lot of our celebrations still revolve around food. Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries and other cultural holidays. I love the way North American’s celebrate Thanksgiving, and the idea of families coming together and intentionally thinking about what they are grateful for. It is a time to remember what has been, celebrate moments and individuals, rejoice in one another’s victories and mourn for our losses. It is a time to stop and look out at the world around us, a reminder to appreciate all that we have, regardless of how much or little that may be. I’m often surprised by how something so seemingly small as giving thanks can change my outlook on much bigger things that I face day to day.
There’s something really special about those moments when we stop to reflect and give thanks around the table. It may take a little more effort to prepare a meal, coordinate schedules, and set aside time to eat together but it is so rewarding when we prioritise connecting with one another. I don’t believe we can have deep, lasting relationships if we are not stopping, putting aside our devices, looking one another in the eye and listening to one another free from distraction.
Why not we make this a regular part of your routine this new year?
by Kali Wratten
YWAM Newcastle Communications Staff